Turkmenistan, one of the former Soviet republics in Central Asia, became independent in 1990 following the collapse of the Soviet Socialist Empire. Along with ten neighbouring former Soviet Republics it is now a member of the Commonwealth of Independent States.
Economically poor for centuries, with much of the country sandy desert, oil and gas reserves, one of the biggest in the world, and the production of irrigated cotton form the basis of the improving economy. Mostly state controlled, the benefits are only recently finding their way into the general economy due to a history of international debt.
Turkmenistan is ruled by its President who exercises a tight control on every aspect of life, including religious worship. Whilst most of the 6 million citizens are culturally Muslim rather than devoutly religious, the government has built a cult of personality around its president. Under this regime Christian gatherings are carefully monitored, the printing of Christian materials is illegal, imports of these are severely restricted and evangelism, youth programmes and instruction for children is not allowed.
Registration of churches is difficult, and unregistered churches risk being raided frequently, with fines and imprisonment awaiting both church leaders and their congregations.
The majority of Christians belong to the Eastern Orthodox Church, a relic of Soviet days, which is a bit more tolerated but monitored carefully. Protestant churches are seen as an Alien Sect and a western import, and a serious threat to the rule of the government.
Internet access and mobile phone use are state controlled and monitored.
• Give thanks for the small Christian communities in the country, as they cope with the threats and dangers of state sponsored persecution.
• Pray for the protection of house churches in Turkmenistan, and more freedom to worship.
• Pray for an easing of difficulties in registering churches, so that Christians can meet without fear.
• Pray for a lifting of restrictions on the instruction of children, youth programmes and evangelism.
• Pray for those who have converted from Islam. Support them when they have problems with their families, as well as their local communities.
• Pray that the government and security forces who are monitoring Christians will encounter the Gospel, and that their hearts will be transformed by Gods love.