During the 40 days of Lent I’m committed to praying each day for Christians in the 40 countries where the cost of being a follower of Christ is highest. I invite you to do the same. The information on the prayer needs of each country comes from a combination of Open Doors, Barnabas Fund and Operation World.
Praying for Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan remains a politically volatile nation. The conflict with Armenia remains unresolved, with both sides manipulating the suffering of many for their own advantage. Regional tensions – involving Russia and its southern republics, Turkey, Georgia, Iran and with NATO – complicate matters further. Azerbaijani military spending is at an all-time high, and no long-term solution to any problem has been found, with most players being intransigent on key issues. A Muslim majority country the government gives preferential treatment to those religions considered ‘traditional’ – Isalam, Russian Orthodoxy, Judaism – while other forms of Christianity are actively restricted. In October 2010 4 Christians were imprisoned for 5 days for taking part in a private harvest festival celebration in a home.
Answers to Prayer
An Azeri Church has emerged, although not without trials. A reasonable estimate places the number of Azeri Christians in the country at 6,000; a more verifiable total would be 3,000. Either one marks solid growth since 1991 – when there were a mere 40 Christians. Azeri Christian music, literature, poetry and other expressions of worship and culture are beginning to flourish. The number of ethnic Azeris in Iran who follow Christ is much higher.
- Stability and a genuine will to make peace in and around Azerbaijan
- The continued growth of the indigenous church
- Brave and skilled lawyers to defend the legal rights of Christians