Kyrgyzstan is one of the poorest former Soviet states in Central Asia. The population of just over 6 million, is largely Muslim, with some 10-15 % being Christian. Because of poverty and discrimination, many Christian men have to leave and look for work in neighbouring countries.
Christianity has a long history in Kyrgyzstan dating back to the 7th century and was under the jurisdiction of the Eastern Orthodox Church. But by the 15th century this had disappeared and Islam had gained ascendancy amongst the Kyrgyz people.
Today, after independence from USSR in 1991, the nation has returned to its Sunni Muslim roots.
The largest Christian denomination is Eastern Orthodox composed mostly of ethnic Russians and Ukrainians, and then small numbers of Roman Catholics and German Lutherans. A 2015 study estimates there are some 19,000 Christians from a Muslim background.
34.4% of the population is under the age of 15. The country is rural and many are nomadic in lifestyle with only one-third living in urban areas.
The country is ruled by a semi-dictator and an elected parliament. It is supposed to have freedom of religion, but new Religion Laws of 2009 have severely tightened government censorship and controls over the production, distribution and importation of religious material, specially Christian material.
Bibles are more accessible than in other Central Asian countries, being for sale at registered churches in the larger cities, but they are very expensive. This law also restricts evangelism, forbids the involvement of children in religious groups, and clamped down on “unregistered” religious activity. It also made registration of a new church much more difficult and cumbersome.
On top of this, Christians who convert from Islam face enormous pressures and discrimination from their families, often involving violence and ostracism. Also in small communities they can have difficulty in finding work, purchasing goods, and even buses won’t stop for them. All because of their faith in Jesus Christ. Hence the emigration of many.
• Give thanks to God for the Christian Churches in Kyrgyzstan.
• Pray for strength of faith and fortitude in the face of all the difficulties that beset them.
• Pray for a relaxation of the laws and rules being imposed on Christians there.
• Pray that Christians who support themselves through micro businesses will be able to witness to their neighbours.
• Pray for a revival among ethnic Kyrgyz that will result in church planting and growth.
• Pray for ex-patriot believers that they will remain true to their faith in their new countries.
• Pray to God that he will raise up effective leadership in the churches.