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Despite strict prohibitions against religion, young professionals are helping to advance the gospel in Central Asia .
CBN News reports that life is challenging for Christians in the five “stans” of central Asia: Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan.
These countries are now free from Soviet rule, but the totalitarianism from the Communist age, as well as the growth of Islamic extremism is a threat to those who profess faith.
Leaders in these countries have enacted laws prohibiting religious expression. These laws are ostensibly directed toward Muslims, but Christians often end up facing brunt of these laws.
“When the authorities discover someone has converted to Christianity, they will gather relatives, friends and family of the accused and bring him or her before an Islamic Council of Elders,” said Maksim who lives in Tajikistan. “The convert then stands before the group and has to decide between faith or family.”
Dr. Michael Cherenkov, who monitors religious freedom issues in the former Soviet Union says that, due to these laws, Christians in these countries have had to find new ways to worship and share their faith.
“These laws have forced Christians to be more creative and invent new approaches to sharing the Gospel,” Cherenkov said.
One way Christians in these countries are building community despite restrictions is through the Next Generation Professional Leaders Initiative, started by Sergey Rakhuba. This event is a gathering of young professionals from across Central Asia.
Rakhuba commented on the importance of this community: “It is not possible to overstate the significance of this gathering when you have in one room over 500 of the key young leaders from across Central Asia.”