Persecution Update, January 2016: Kazakhstan

Pastor Bakhytzhan Kashkumbayev Image Credit: World Watch Monitor

Pastor Bakhytzhan Kashkumbayev
Image Credit: World Watch Monitor

Kazakhstan, a Central Asian country that was formerly part of the Soviet Union, is under a harsh, authoritarian dictatorship. Both atheism and Islam are strong, totaling 88% of the population. In 1989 there were 46 mosques in Kazakhstan, but now there are more than 1,200. The prevailing view of the people is that Christianity is the religion of the Russians, of which ethnic Kazakh people want no part. In February 2005, a law was passed that caused most foreign missionaries to have to leave the country. However, there are churches there, mostly pastored by Kazakhs. One of those is Grace Church in Astana, a legally registered Protestant church. In May 2013, its pastor, Bakhytzhan Kashkumbayev—a converted Muslim, was arrested on false charges and subjected to psychiatric treatment. He was released in October 2013, but then was immediately re-arrested on additional false charges of promoting terrorism. In February 2014, Pastor Kashkumbayev, age 67, was found guilty and given a 4-year suspended sentence and a huge fine for damages. Please intercede for the Lord to protect and to strengthen this faithful pastor, his family, and other oppressed believers in Kazakhstan.