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Home News Unforgettable Visit
Unforgettable Visit

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On September 12 during the evening prayer meeting, the congregation had the opportunity to talk with the pastor of a Baptist Church in Kazakhstan - Zaur (the country and name of the pastor have been changed for security reasons). During the meeting we heard his story about the difficult circumstances and challenges that the Christian communities face in an Islamic country. For Christians living in a free society it is always interesting to talk with someone who knows first hand about the harassment and persecution of believers in other countries. The interest was clearly demonstrated in the great number of questions we asked our guest. It was difficult to imagine that this calm, reasonable person had been the object of absurd accusations brought by the Kazakh authorities, and had suffered much physical abuse defending his constitutional right to freedom of religious belief.

Zaur said (this is his first trip to the Ukraine) that he was glad to be in a Christian environment immediately after his arrival. In fact, his visit was an encouragement for all of us. We were especially encouraged by the stories the pastor shared of the gradual change in the attitude toward Christians on the part of the Kazakh government officials, and even simply neighbors; contempt giving way to sympathy and sometimes even respect. Despite the general social pressure, the Christians in Kazakhstan, as far as possible, maintain close relationships between denominations. "We are looking for common ground, rather than differences," - says Pastor Zaur.

Zaur also told how difficult it is for him and other Christian ministers of Central Asia to travel abroad, even when their baggage contains no Christian literature or electronic devices, things that are forbidden for transport across the border. He told what he had to endure for the opportunity to share with us Ukrainian Christians about the work of God in Kazakhstan. Unfortunately there were only about 20 people gathered in the Christian Ministry Center. A meeting like this should have filled an auditorium, at least, with the participation of several churches.

These hours of fellowship are precious not only for the person from the country where there is oppression and persecution, but also for the rest of us - for you and me. This time gave us the opportunity to reflect on the quality of our Christian faith, taught us to appreciate the freedom that we have thanks to the Lord. At the end of the meeting, both the speaker and the audience expressed hope for further close mutual cooperation. We prayed for the needs of the Kazakh believers and were once again reminded of the importance of Christians working together and of the importance of praying for each other.

Vlada Ryabukha

 
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