Anonystan – Light in the darkness
Let me tell you about a small, unregistered (read illegal) church in Anonystan with a pastor who has a passion and vision to reach those lost in darkness. Instead of seeing Covid as an obstacle, the church decided to use it as an opportunity! So with the help of quite a number of Brits, money was raised to support a food relief effort managed by the church. The neighbours, who previously wouldn’t engage with the believers at all, suddenly found that whilst suffering real hunger and deprivation (yes, this has resulted in people very short of basic food), the believers were offering them food bags. The compassion showed (in the same way Jesus did so many times) has opened up so many gospel opportunities. Praise God!
Seconds away from midnight
If this wasn’t enough, the pastor decided to go into the local hospital and share the words of eternal life with those dying from Covid. A few dying Muslims declared their faith in Jesus Christ as the clock ticked seconds away from midnight. The pastor is an intelligent man and knew the risks he was taking and the inevitable happened – he caught it himself! Thankfully he has recovered. This church is a bright shining light in Anonystan and we continue to partner with them as they seek to shine the light of the gospel into the darkness. You can’t know the country, let alone the region, but you can pray for them!
Turkey – More inquirers into Christian faith
By all accounts, Turkey is much more seriously impacted by Covid than the official figures suggest. As Turkey continues its journey to become more Muslim and freedoms are curtailed, there is a backlash from some of the younger generation who want change, which is probably behind an increasing number of inquiries into Christian faith. The very few provincial churches that do exist are seeing more opportunities and even those who wish to profess faith in Jesus Christ.
Yet, a high ‘drop out’
The reality is though, that the cost of following Jesus is huge and many who declare an interest soon find that the cost is too great to bear and walk away. The association between Islam and national identity is profound and this, along with a strong honour/shame culture, brings the parable of the sower into stark focus. This significant “drop-out” rate is a real discouragement for church workers as they see each person they invest time and energy in as a likely “drop-out”. Yet, this is exactly what Jesus experienced – in fact he even asked his disciples if they planned to stick around at one point!
Please pray for real encouragement for all workers in Turkey and that Jesus Christ will continue to build his church.
Azerbaijan: Nagorno-Karabakh region – pray for peace (1 Timothy 2:1-2)
Fresh fighting broke out on Sep 27th between Armenian and Azeri forces in the South Caucasus region of Nagorno-Karabakh. A ceasefire brokered by Russia on last Saturday appears to be fast crumbling away, with renewed clashes this week, including civilian deaths.
The people of the Nagorno-Karabakh region will remember all to well the misery and bloodshed of the war from 1991-94 that is said to have killed around 30,000.
This BBC link will give you the latest news and all the background to the conflict in this disputed region. You can also read about Christian mission in Azerbaijan, as this is one of the countries of Central Asia that People International serves in.
Please pray for;
- Our workers to be kept safe and to have fresh opportunities to share their faith in this time of fear and uncertainty
- For peace – for those seeking to achieve a truce, especially as there is a real potential for escalation – with Russia having a defence pact with Armenia, and Turkey being allied to Azerbaijan
- For believers in the disputed region – to trust in God, and be given that ‘peace that passes all understanding’ even at this troubling and fearful time
- For both Azeri and Armenian believers to show acts of kindness and love, so that the ‘compassion of Christ’ shines through amidst all the darkness