BIBLE SOCIETY NEWS | Anne Lim
The Bible Society in Kazakhstan hopes to put 100,000 Russian New Testaments into the hands of non- Christians during annual Bible Day celebrations in the former Communist country.
“Our main goal is to provide churches with Scriptures for any kind of evangelisation activities to spread the word as widely as possible,” says Rostyslav Stasyuk of the Ukrainian Bible Society, who helps Bible Societies in Central Asia through the Central Asia Service Unit.
Bible Day is usually tied to Thanksgiving celebrations in September and October, when churches invite lots of guests, including non- believers, because religious activities are allowed only on church territory. About 200-300 churches are expected to take part – Orthodox and Baptist, Pentecostal, Evangelical and Adventist.
The landlocked country of Kazakhstan is a patchwork of rolling plains and mountain ranges, of wheat fields and apple orchards – in fact, this Central Asian republic is known as the birthplace of the apple.
But despite being the ninth-largest country in the world, bordered to the north by Russia and China to the south, it is sparsely populated. Its 18 million people are broadly two-thirds indigenous Kazakhs and one-third Russians.
(While Kazakh is the state language, Russian is the official language and is spoken by most Kazakhstanis.)
During 70 years of communist rule, Christian faith was severely repressed but after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, there was an upsurge in Christian growth thanks to an influx of missionaries.
Today about 26 per cent of the population identify as Christian, mainly Russian Orthodox.
Unfortunately, the government enacted a repressive bill in 2011, which forced missionaries out of the country and compelled churches to group into larger congregations.
Christian advocacy groups report widespread persecution of Christians, and especially Christian converts, in the heavily Islamic nation. With ever more legal restrictions imposed on the church, Christians are frequently fined for their activities and pastors arrested and imprisoned. Open Doors reports that at least 71 people were fined in 2014 for worshipping in unregistered, underground churches.
Despite these difficulties, many churches focus strongly on outreach to those who have never heard of God. With limited resources, many churches can benefit greatly from provision of free Scripture to assist their outreach efforts.
Over recent years the Bible Society in Kazakhstan has successfully initiated “Bible Day celebrations” among churches as a way to promote the Bible and unite Christians.
Bible Society in Kazakhstan needs to print 100,000 Russian New Testaments for distribution to non-believers during Bible Day events in churches around the country. Can you help?