- Praise God for the thousands of children in Eurasia who received Gifts of Hope during the Christmas season! Please pray that God would be at work in their hearts so that they may come to know Christ.
- Pray for an upcoming Next Generation Professional Leaders Initiative (NGPLI) conference that will take place in Belarus this month.
- Pray for young people in Tolyatti, Russia who are going to church, but don’t yet know God, and that our ministry efforts would bear fruit in their lives.
- Pray for our School Without Walls (SWW) leaders in Israel, as they are planning to start a new SWW group in the Czech Republic.
- Please pray for the regional coordinator of God’s Family Church in Minsk, Belarus as she leads ministry efforts, while also helping her daughters prepare for college.
- Praise God for providing resources and ministry opportunities in Russia, even in the midst of escalating religious persecution!
- Pray for our ministry team in Ukraine as they continue using our “I Care” Refugee Assistance Program to distribute humanitarian aid to internally displaced people and those who remain trapped in the war zone.
- Pray for our SWW students in Pinsk, Belarus as they partner with Christian student groups to prepare special evangelistic events at a local university in honor of the 500th anniversary of an edition of Psalms that was published by Francysk Skaryna in the Belarusian language.
- Please pray for our ministry workers and missionary partners who are dedicated to sharing the gospel with the unreached throughout Russia’s North Caucasus.
- Pray for our team in Ukraine as they meet with the leaders of professional networks in Kazakhstan, Moldova, and Russia.
- Pray for safety for some of our SWW students in Uzbekistan, as they are experiencing challenges with local authorities.
- Praise God for an English study group in Pinsk, Belarus, through which Church Without Walls (CWW) is teaching English lessons using Bible passages! Please pray that God would be at work in the students’ hearts so they may come to know Christ.
- Pray that God would grant wisdom to Vyacheslav, our SWW coordinator in Yekaterinburg, Russia, as he develops new ministry initiatives.
- Please pray that SWW students in Armenia would continue growing spiritually and sharing the gospel with their neighbors.
- Pray that young Christians in Saratov, Russia would actively participate in ministry efforts in their community.
- Pray for our plans to publish several ministry resources for young Christian professionals throughout Eurasia.
- Please pray for CWW in Pinsk, Belarus, as the church leaders are still trying to register with local authorities, construct their own building, and expand their small group ministry.
- Pray for our SWW students in Moldova as they organize and host a youth conference this month to encourage about 300 young people to share the gospel with their families, friends, and neighbors.
- Praise God for our ministry center in Vladikavkaz, Russia, through which we are expanding our ministry efforts, including church planting, in this volatile region!
- Pray that God would provide resources for CWW in Pinsk, Belarus, and that He would embolden working professionals who attend the church to share the gospel in their workplaces.
- Please pray for SWW students in Yekaterinburg, Russia as they begin their internships at local churches.
- Pray for Denis, our NGPLI director, as he develops and expands this strategic ministry throughout Eurasia.
- Pray for our SWW coordinators in Russia as they expand our ministry efforts in the North Caucasus and the Transcaucasia region.
- Praise God for our ministry leaders who are faithfully serving in Central Asia, despite the challenges they face!
- Please pray for our ministry team in Ukraine as they lead an NGPLI conference in Minsk, Belarus today.
- Pray for Georgiy, one of our SWW leaders in Vladikavkaz, Russia, as he is trying to obtain Russian citizenship.
- Pray that God would provide a new leader for the youth ministry at God’s Family Church in Minsk, Belarus.
- Please pray that God would grow the children’s ministry at Spiritual Renewal Church in Vladikavkaz, Russia.
- Please pray for an International Alliance for the Development of Christian Education meeting that Ray and Cindy Le Clair, two of our ministry workers in Ukraine, are leading in Kiev on October 1.
- Praise God for a successful hiking trip that School Without Walls (SWW) students from North Ossetia, Russia recently led! Because of this trip, several young non-Christians started going to church!
- Pray for Church Without Walls (CWW) in Pinsk, Belarus as they continue growing their small group ministry.
- Pray that God would bless Eduard, our SWW coordinator in Balti, Moldova, as he and his wife lead three different youth groups with the help of their students.
- Please pray that God would grant wisdom and courage to our ministry team in Russia’s North Caucasus as they continue expanding SWW in this volatile region.
- Praise God that Robert, a man from Gyumri, Armenia, accepted Christ at one of our evangelistic concerts and is now actively serving in his church! Please also pray for him, as he works for the authorities and is not permitted to openly confess his faith.
- Pray that the leaders of God’s Family Church in Minsk, Belarus would continue bringing the gospel beyond their church’s walls.
- Pray for SWW students in Gagauzia, Moldova as they continue reaching out to a single mother and her six children who live in their village.
- Praise God for a new group of SWW students in Russia that is actively serving in a local church and home Bible study groups!
- Please pray for the school that Living Israel recently opened in Haifa. Young people from Russia, Ukraine, and other European countries will soon be arriving to begin their studies!
- Continue praying for Aram, our SWW coordinator in Armenia, as he prepares young people at his church to take over the leadership of his youth ministry.
- Pray for two upcoming Next Generation Professional Leaders Initiative (NGPLI) conferences in Krasnodar and Perm, Russia. About 800 total young people are expected to attend these strategic events!
- Praise God that CWW in Pinsk, Belarus is celebrating their third anniversary this month with a special family outreach event!
- Please pray that our containers of humanitarian aid goods would clear customs in Ukraine as quickly as possible so we can bring these goods to those in need.
- Pray for three new SWW groups in Georgia as they strive to transform their communities with the hope of the gospel.
- Pray for an upcoming one-day conference in Krasnodar, Russia that will encourage SWW students to reach their neighbors for Christ.
- Please pray for Andranik and Vova, SWW teachers in Armenia, as they prepare a new group of SWW students for effective ministry.
- Pray for a group of Christians from Kazakhstan who will be participating in parliamentary work groups to encourage the nation’s leaders to soften harsh religion laws that they are trying to pass.
- Praise God for renewed passion among the leaders of Spiritual Renewal Church in Vladikavkaz, Russia!
- Pray for Denis, our SWW coordinator in Moldova, as he seeks wisdom in balancing his work with family time.
- Pray for Uzbekistan as the nation prepares to elect a new president on December 4. Please specifically pray that this new leader would call for greater religious freedom in this nation where Christians are harshly persecuted.
- Please pray for Georgiy, a SWW teacher and pastor in Vladikavkaz, Russia, who is dealing with a difficult personal situation.
- Praise God for two Christian education seminars and a training course for Christian teachers that Ray and Cindy Le Clair, along with the Christian Education Resource Network, are hosting in Kiev, Ukraine at the end of October!
- Pray for a Christian band from Armenia as they travel to different cities to expand their ministry.
- Pray for our church-planting efforts and ministry to young people through preventative lectures and youth clubs in Russia’s North Caucasus.
- Please pray for Alexey, our SWW coordinator in Kazakhstan, and his wife, Alisa, who is experiencing some challenging health issues.
- Continue praying for courage and safety for believers in Russia as they proclaim the gospel, even in the midst of the nation’s new anti-terrorism laws.
- Pray for Joy Club, a youth group at CWW in Pinsk, Belarus, to continue growing so they can reach even more young people for Christ.
- Please pray for Valeriy, our SWW coordinator in Krasnodar, Russia, as he recovers from surgery.
- Pray that God would bless SWW students in Balti, Moldova, as they are planning to build a new church in the village of Ushureya.
- Pray that God would grant us wisdom as we prepare for this year’s Gift of Hope Christmas outreach for children.
Dear Friends and Ministry Supporters,
As we have been reporting, the religious freedom situation in Central Asia continues to deteriorate. That is why I am writing today to ask for your urgent prayers for Yklas Kabduakasov, a 54-year-old new believer from the Central Asian country of Kazakhstan, who fearlessly shared the gospel with his family and friends after his conversion from Islam. Kazakhstan’s secret police arrested Kabduakasov on August 14 after they searched his home and confiscated his Christian books. The church where Kabduakasov worships in Kazakhstan was also searched the same day. On August 15 a court in the capital city of Astana ordered him to be held for two months in pre-trial detention for spreading “religious discord.” Kabduakasov now faces a criminal case with a possible 5-10 year prison sentence.
Christians in Kazakhstan believe that Kabduakasov was targeted for his conversion from Islam to Christianity and for sharing the gospel with other Muslims. They believe that the secret police are using these tactics of intimidation because they want to make an example of Kabduakasov, sending a message to all Kazakhs that they will face a similar fate if they also convert to Christianity.
As believers, we know that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12). That is why I am asking you to join me in prayer for Yklas Kabduakasov and for all of our Christian brothers and sisters who are suffering for their faith throughout the countries of Central Asia, Russia, Ukraine and all of Eurasia.
Please pray specifically for Yklas Kabduakasov that God would:
- Strengthen his faith and help him go through this trial.
- Comfort his family, especially his wife, who is in the last months of pregnancy.
- Soften the hearts of his persecutors, that they would drop the charges against him.
- Provide funds for his family, for legal fees, and for food during his time in detention.
Please also consider giving a gift to Mission Eurasia’s Religious Freedom Fund that is designed to support and strengthen the persecuted church throughout Eurasia. To give online, click here and select Religious Freedom Fund from the dropdown menu.
Thank you for your prayers and support for Yklas Kabduakasov and all persecuted believers throughout the countries of Eurasia who are suffering for their faith. I would also appreciate your prayers for Mission Eurasia, as we continue to develop our strategic Religious Freedom Initiative that is designed to train and equip emerging leaders for the persecuted church as well as inform and mobilize the global Christian community to advocate for the persecuted church throughout Eurasia.
Gratefully in Him,
With protests and conflicts in Ukraine, pastors in prison in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, the forced closure and liquidation of churches, and the confiscation and destruction of Christian literature, the upcoming Briefing on Religious Freedom Issues in the Former Soviet Union/Eurasia has never been more timely—or significant—than this year’s briefing which takes place on Capitol Hill, 2123 Rayburn House Office Building, Wednesday, February 5, from 3-5 p.m.
Sponsored by Congressman Joe Pitts (R-PA), the briefing will bring together spearheading organization Russian Ministries with groups including Stefanus Alliance International, Institute for Global Engagement, Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Religious Liberty Partnership, World Evangelical Alliance, members of the U.S. Congress and leaders of the evangelical churches of the FSU.
Briefing speakers will bring their collective expertise to topics that include:
The past and future of religious freedom in the former Soviet Union by Dr. Gregory Komendant, former President, Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists of Ukraine, Vice President of Baptist World Alliance.
- Traditional Orthodoxy and post-Soviet Government by Yuri Sipko, Pastor and former President of the Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists of Russia.
- Why Religious Minorities are Persecuted and Oppressed, and Why Dialogue Doesn’t Exist by Dr. Mikhail Cherenkov, Vice President of the Association for Spiritual Renewal.
- The Current Relationship of Church and State in Kazakhstan, by Alexander Klyushev, President of the Association of Religious Organizations of Kazakhstan.
- The Relationship Between the State and Religious Denominations in Azerbaijan, by Rasim Khalilov, General Secretary of the Evangelical Alliance of Azerbaijan and Nijat Mammadli, Head of the International Relations Department of the State Committee on Religious Associations of Azerbaijan.
- Religious Freedom and Human Rights in Light of the Current Situation in Ukraine, by Metropolitan Filaret, Head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
PRESS CONFERENCE ADDRESSES CURRENT REALITIES FOR THE CHURCH IN FSU
Then, following the National Prayer Breakfast, a press conference on Mission Work in the Countries of the Former Soviet Union/Eurasia: Needs, Challenges and Current Realities will take place on Thursday, February 6, 2014, from 2-4 p.m. in the Independence Room of the Washington Hilton Hotel in Washington, D. C.
The press conference will address issues that now significantly impact mission organizations/evangelical church in the FSU/Eurasia in light of the political, economic, and other changes rocking the countries and church of this part of the world at this time. Participants at the conference will include Dr. Mikhail Cherenkov, Dr. Yuri Sipko, Dr. Gregory Komendant, Metropolitan Filaret (Ukrainian Orthodox Church), Aleksander Shumilin, Chairman of the Association of Evangelical Churches of Kyrgyzstan, and other prominent Christian leaders.
With the current turmoil in Ukraine and changes taking place in the former Soviet Union/Eurasia on a daily basis, this press conference will inform and equip Christian missions to most effectively spread the gospel in this part of the world.
A NEW GENERATION TO BRING HOPE AND HEALING
Meanwhile, back in Kiev, even as conflicts persist and grow, Russian Ministries is moving forward with its plans for a Forum for Christian Professionals, scheduled to take place March 21-22, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine. The forum will focus on how Christian leaders from all walks of professional life can live and work for Christ.From 300 to 500 young professionals are expected to attend the event which will help them bring the transformational truths of Christ into their areas of business, medicine, education and law.
“Russian Ministries’ focus on raising up a new generation of Christian leaders is more timely now than ever before,” says Russian Ministries’ President Sergey Rakhuba. “With all that is going on in Ukraine, the Next Generation of Christian leaders can bring healing and reconciliation to the nation.”
Featured speakers at the forum include:
- Paul Eshelman, Vice President with Campus Crusade for Christ and former Director of the JESUS Film project
- Mats Tunehag, senior Associate on Business as Mission for both the Lausanne Movement and World Evangelical Alliance Mission Commission
To help support this event, please give to the Next Generation Professional Leaders Initiative of Russian Ministries.
CALL TO PRAYER AND GIVING
With the chaos in Ukraine and the eroded or religious freedom throughout the former Soviet Union, Russian Ministries is calling on the global church to pray and support fellow believers in this part of the world.
- Pray that believers will be God’s agents of hope and reconciliation in Kiev and other cities in Ukraine.
- Ask God to give Christian leaders—both young and old—wisdom in navigating sensitive issues.
- Continue to pray that the church will be bold in their witness and stand firm in the face of persecution.
- Show your support for these Next Generation Christian leaders with a gift to Russian Ministries.
On October 8, an event occurred in the saga of the 67-year-old Astana Pastor Bakhytzhan Kashkumbaev that few could have foreseen. As soon as he was released from his five-month detainment, the pastor was taken into custody, right there at the exit of the Astana pretrial detention facility (SIZO). Azattyk [Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty] has learned that a new criminal case has been launched with allegations of extremist activities.
Recall that the Pastor was initially placed under arrest in May of this year on the charge of causing bodily harm to one of his parishioners through hypnosis in his sermons, writes Kazis Toguzbaev for the Radio Azattyk website.The decision to transfer the Pastor to house arrest was made just before evening on Monday, October 7. The release from SIZO was processed the next day at noon. But what kind of a blow it was to the pastor’s relatives when, after three hours of waiting for their family patriarch, he was immediately placed under arrest.
A brief video of the moment of the new arrest was captured by one of the Pastor’s family members via mobile phone. Pastor Bakhytzhan Kashkumbaev is showing the people surrounding him his injured leg. Next to him a woman is crying—his wife, Alfia Kashkumbaeva.
Relatives of the Pastor and his lawyer say that the 67-year-old suffers from numerous health issues and requires constant medical care. The Pastor himself asked the authorities to at least transfer him to house arrest if there was no way to drop the absurd, in his opinion, criminal charges.
And now Kashkumbaev, immediately upon exiting SIZO, is once again taken into custody. According to Nurlan Beisekeev speaking by telephone to Azattyk from the scene of action, he was detained by officers of the Municipal Department of Internal Affairs (DVD) on new charges of extremism. The officers, dressed in civilian clothes, agreed to allow the Pastor to be transported to the police station in the private car of Nurlan Beisekeev. “I was behind the wheel, and behind me sat the two officers with Bakhytzan between them. Upon arrival at the DVD he was taken to the office of Investigator Glazkov. I also made my way there. The investigator explained his reason for the detention: new charges have been filed against Kashkumbaevfor alleged extremism: article 233. I saw the ruling and read it,” said the attorney Beisekeev.
However, Nurlan Beisekeev, it would seem, is no longer the attorney for Pastor Kashkumbaev. “The investigator took away the document with his indictment of Kashkumbaev, saying as he did so that I am not Kashkumbaev’s attorney in this new case and evicting me from the office,” says Nurlan Beisikeev. At present it is a matter of urgency that Beisekeev resolve some legal formalities in order to become the Pastor’s attorney in the new criminal case. Investigator Vyacheslav Glazkov told a correspondent of Azattyk that the charge against Kashkumbaev has not yet been filed, but that a new criminal case has indeed been opened on suspicion of criminal activity meeting the criteria of the article on extremism: article 233-1, part 1. And so Kashkumbaev is being held.
“We’ve taken him into custody,” said Investigator Vyacheslav Glazkov, explaining that the law permits them to hold suspects for three days. Human rights organizations have called for Astana to release Bakhytzhan Kashkumbaev and drop the politically motivated, in their view, charges. During the previous detention, Kashkumbaev was forced to undergo a psychiatric examination, which also provoked criticism from human rights advocates.
Together, we can make a difference. Please continue your prayers for Pastor Kashkumbaev and other persecuted Christians across the former Soviet Union/Eurasia. And as the Lord leads, please give to Russian Ministries’ Religious Freedom Fund, to support churches and families facing persecution and give emergency aid to fellow believers in crisis.
Pray for Central Asia —In the fear-filled countries of Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan, violence by Islamic militants is on the rise, and evangelism is considered terrorism. But your support of Russian Ministries is at work! Despite the fact that we must work underground, we trained 567 School Without Walls (SWW) students in 2013. These Next Generation Christian leaders are at work now, actively sharing their faith in every way they can.
Pray for Russia —The world’s largest country, the Russian Federation is home to 162 different people groups . . . nearly half of which are unreached by the gospel. The government has become hostile toward evangelical Christians and persecution is on the rise. This vast land is filled with the byproducts of spiritual emptiness — suicide, addiction, and despair.
But in the past year, your support of SWW trained 465 students in 18 locations, strengthening their faith and motivating them to actively evangelize and to work in ministry.
Pray for Belarus —Sky-high suicide and homicide rates, rampant corruption, and despair grip this country. Foreign missionaries are not allowed and unregistered religious activity can result in imprisonment or heavy fines. Unregistered churches are monitored by secret police and violent raids are common. Your support trained 184 SWW students in six locations in 2013 to strengthen existing churches and communities and to evangelize through social work and discipleship.