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 Turkmenistan
Although the constitution provides for freedom of religion, in 2010 police officers reportedly told Christians that they would do everything to ensure that there are no Christians left in the country. Ethnic Turkmen Christians are often insulted and put under pressure to return to Islam. Many believers run the risk of losing their jobs. There are very few registered churches; non-registered religious activity is illegal. In 2010 a pastor from Marytown was falsely accused of swindle and sentenced to four years’ imprisonment.
Answer to Prayer
The demise of the man who built himself up as a god-king, wrote his own “Holy Book” and named himself Turkmenbashi, “the father of all Turkmen”, brings what is hopefully the beginning of transformation. It is still early to pass judgment, but there is a greater sense of hope about openness and positive change from the repressive personality cult of the past.
Challenge for Prayer
The new government and leadership face difficult decisions about continuing Niyazov’s legacy, about domestic policies and about the awkward relationships with Russia (its main buyer of gas), Iran, Afghanistan and China. Pray for godly wisdom for the new leader, for a departure from oppressive policies of the past and for the respect of constitutionally guaranteed human rights and religious freedoms.
- For protection on Christian youth activities. Sometimes summer camps are raided by police and teenagers are detained for hours without food or water
- For unity between churches and for godly Christian leaders
- For good discipleship and training resources to become more available.