The fall of the Soviet Union plunged Tajikistan into civil war from 1992-1997, which resulted in significant emigration and greatly reduced the nation’s Christian population. More recently, Tajikistan has been plagued by domestic problems, such as the local police’s inability to handle criminal activity. It remains the poorest of the former Soviet nations and is considered very unstable. Nearly half of the country’s GDP comes from migrants working abroad, and it is heavily dependent on Russia for economic support.
Today, Tajikistan is ranked number 31 on the World Watch List, and is nearly 96 percent Muslim. The remaining Christians are mostly Russian Orthodox and only nominal followers of Christ. Tajikistan’s terrain is 93 percent mountainous, which isolates rural populations from urban evangelistic efforts. Harsh religion laws passed in 2010 drove the evangelical church almost entirely underground, and more restrictive legislation passed by President Emomali Rahmon in 2015 has only made things more difficult. Persecution is a daily concern for those who wish to live out and share the gospel.
Despite the threat of persecution, our School Without Walls (SWW) students are partnering with underground churches to reach Tajik youth with the hope of Christ. Sports camps and other social outreach events enable them to safely and discreetly talk about Jesus. There is a great need for a spiritual awakening and unity in the Tajik church, and Mission Eurasia is working diligently toward that goal.
- For safety and perseverance for evangelical Christians struggling to hold fast to their faith despite isolation and persecution.
- For the government to end its unjust treatment of Christians and to allow the gospel to be freely preached.
- For a spiritual awakening in the Tajik church, giving them the passion to share Christ with their Muslim neighbors.
- For the development of culturally sensitive outreach and church models that will thrive in the country’s rural areas.
Timur is a SWW graduate from northern Tajikistan who was called by God to youth ministry. Using his SWW training, Timur is actively working to share the gospel with young people in a way that they can understand.
“When I first started working in the youth ministry, only six kids were coming,” says Timur. “I knew that I needed to help them develop a passion for service, so I translated movies about the persecution of Christians around the world and we watched them together. I wanted them to think about what it means to live as real Christians . . . and to see that true believers will continue to serve God no matter what.”
Today, 30 young people are participating in evangelistic activities through Timur’s youth ministry! As Yegor, our SWW coordinator in Tajikistan, says, “He has inspired the youth, and I know that he will continue to do this. He is a good example of a true Christian, both for the young people in his ministry, and for his fellow SWW students and graduates.”