(Voice of the Persecuted) Pulled between Folk Islam and Islamist movements.
WHAT IS CENTRAL ASIA LIKE?
Central Asia is a vast region that includes the countries of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and much of Xinjiang province in western China. Most of the region was a part of the Soviet Union until 1991.
The vast geography of Central Asia includes treeless plains, pine forests, rock canyons, hills, deltas, snow-capped mountains, and deserts. Its climate varies from arid and hot to temperate, dry, and cold. The region is sparsely populated due to its uninhabitable forests, deserts, and high mountain ranges. The total population of Turkic peoples in Central Asia is about 60 million.
The Turkic peoples of Central Asia are overwhelmingly Muslim, and they are ethnically distinct from the Western peoples of Turkey. They are defined as anyone who speaks a Turkic language. There are six major ethnicities, most of whom have their own nation, namely, the Uzbek, Uyghur, Turkmen, Kyrgyz, Kazakh, and Karakalpak.
Their origins are from northeast Asia (Siberia) in the first millennium AD. Turkic peoples have a mix of ethnicities due to the many migrations caused by the rise and fall of countless empires.
WHAT ARE THE GREATEST STRUGGLES IN CENTRAL ASIA?
One of the primary characteristics of the region is the intensifying struggle between the post-Soviet regimes and the Islamist movements. Local governments’ initial embrace of Islam after the breakup of the Soviet Union has largely changed due to oppressive policies that seek to stop Islamist movements. But much of the population is torn between the two and tired of the poverty, corruption, and failure to progress. The development of the recently discovered oil reserves in the region has yet to have a major impact.
In the western Chinese province of Xinjiang, the Muslim Uyghur people are being cruelly oppressed by a Chinese government trying to prevent the creation of an independent Eastern Turkestan nation. This persecution of the Uyghur people is systematic, ongoing, extensive, and horrific. And it goes largely unreported since China strictly prohibits journalists’ entry into the region.
One can summarize the primary struggles of the Turkic peoples of Central Asia as a lack of political freedom and very limited opportunity for economic development.
WHAT DOES ISLAM LOOK LIKE IN CENTRAL ASIA?
Muslims in Central Asia are still adjusting to the post-Soviet era. They are discovering what it means to be Muslims in countries increasingly controlled by autocratic, secular-leaning, Muslim rulers.
The allure of radical Islam can be strong for those who see no future in their country or region. Islamists are adept at making other Muslims feel guilty for not being good Muslims.
The older generation survived decades of atheist propaganda, but their children – born since 1991 – haven’t known such pressure. These generational differences produce huge pressures within families.
Orthodox Muslim belief is rare in Central Asia. Instead, the influence of traditional folk Muslim practices is widespread. As in many regions of the Muslim world, folk practices often become occult practices. Countless Muslims in Central Asia are in bondage to unspeakable forms of demonic oppression. Some of the prevalent traditional practices are so dark they cannot be mentioned here.
WHAT IS GOD DOING IN CENTRAL ASIA TODAY?
Prior to the collapse of the Soviet Union, there was no known ministry to the Muslims of Central Asia. Since 1991, development and education organizations have entered the region and sought to bless the people.
There are now growing numbers of believers in Christ coming out of Islam. The relationship between these new believers and existing Christians – who are often ethnically Russian – is often difficult and complicated.
In some countries, the newly-birthed house church movements are healthy and growing stronger. In others, they are still very much in their early stages and are vulnerable.
Government officials in nearly every country are often as hard on Muslim background believers as they are on Islamists. In attempts to keep religious tensions under control, they close meeting places and arrest leaders.
As lives are being radically changed for Christ in many parts of the region, Lord, we are asking for more!
- Pray for those plagued by alcohol, drugs, and broken homes to find healing in Jesus Christ
- Pray for encounters with the Living Christ through dreams, visions, and the Injil (New Testament).
- Pray for new and widespread movements to Jesus across the region
We continue to pray for:
- Leah Sharibu and Alice, both held captive by the Boko Haram.
- For Pastor Wanh Yi from China, who has been sentenced to 9 years in prison for sharing boldly the love of God.
- For Anita, a Christian convert recently sentenced to 10 years in prison for sharing the Gospel in Iran.
“Our prayers do have an impact on the things of eternity and the souls of men and women to find truth in him who is the Living Word. Please join us on the prayer conference call to lift prayers up together. As ever, I remain your brother and prayer partner in our Lord Jesus. Meet you on the call!
If you are unable to participate on the call, or cannot join us on a particular evening, you can still use the prayer points and pray in your personal prayer closet. The only thing I would urge you is, please do it. Whether you pray privately, in a group, or on our call, please pray for a great harvest of souls during this time of Ramadan.” – Blaine Scogin, Founder of Persecution Watch and former Prayer Director of Voice of the Persecuted.
As Blaine Scogin did each year, the team will continue to host nightly calls during Ramadan. We will be following along with the Prayercast Team’s platform in praying for Muslims for the next 30 days, which began on April 24. Please sign up here to receive the daily video and prayer points from Prayercast which we will cover on the nightly prayer conference calls. If you have yet to do so, it’s not to late. Dear brothers and sisters, we challenge you to join us on the conference call to pray with us during these 30 nights of prayer for the persecuted, the harvest, and for Muslims to come out of the dark, receive the truth and follow Jesus.
Voice of the Persecuted and the Persecution Watch Prayer Team
Nightly call schedule through Ramadan
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What is Persecution Watch?
Persecution Watch is a U.S. national prayer conference call ministry that prays specifically for the global Persecuted Church. For over a decade, Blaine Scogin led this national network of believers who faithfully pray for the persecuted and the global harvest for the Kingdom of God. The group meets via a free call-in service every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday night at 9pm Eastern (please check your time zone). Blaine also served as Prayer Director for Voice of the Persecuted and our missions became one. The prayer mission of Persecution Watch is an important part of our own. With the passing of Blaine into glory on December 26, 2019, Voice of the Persecuted is committed to continue the prayer conference call for the persecuted along with our dedicated prayer warrior team.
On occasion, persecuted brothers and sisters have been invited on the call to share the trials they’re facing. The team serves to encourage them by washing their feet in Spirit led prayer. Time is often reserved for those on the call to ask questions. We believe this helps to gain a better understanding of the situation that persecuted Christians endure in their specific nations. Q&A also helps us to focus our prayers based on their current needs.
Persecution Watch also hosts callers who want to pray united from other nations. If your heart is perplexed by the sufferings of our persecuted brothers and sisters, you no longer need to pray alone. We welcome all who desire to pray for the persecuted church and consider it a joy to pray together with you. If you’re new to the call and can’t find your voice, listen in and pray silently or on mute. We are grateful and thank the Lord for bringing us all together to pray in agreement for our persecuted family in Christ. We can all be prayer warriors on this call!
NOTE: Persecution Watch has a new email address for the prayer team and those who would like to receive urgent prayer requests, weekly call prayer points and notification of special prayer events and special guest speakers. Please fill out the form below to be included in our new distribution list to receive this important information. Since the passing of Brother Blaine Scogin, we thank you for your patience as we have transitioned into this new season. We are grateful for your prayers and to the Lord for guiding us as we continue the Persecution Watch prayer call mission.
Note to Voice of the Persecuted (VOP) readers: The Persecution Watch prayer team is also the prayer team of Voice of the Persecuted. SIGN UP today.