Ex-Soviet Country Faces Communist-Era Persecution
Authorities in the former soviet republic of Kazakhstan severely restrict freedom of Christians. The authorities particularly target Muslim converts to Christianity.
08/03/2010 Kazakhstan (CBN News)-The collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s led to a wave of independence and religious freedom for much of central Asia .
But now, many Christians in the region say the harsh treatment they are receiving is reminiscent of the persecution they experienced during the Communist era.
While many people in the former Communist countries returned to their Islamic roots, others like Sergey Mironov of Kazakhstan embraced Christianity. Mironov says he’s often punished for that decision.
A New Way of Life
Mironov’s conversion followed a drug addiction that caused him to lose everything — his family, home, business, and health.
One day, a Christian visitor approached his hospital bedside as he suffered from tuberculosis.
“He was a friend of mine. We used to share needles in our arms. Suddenly, I saw him as a different person,” Mironov recalled. “I saw his eyes and they were different eyes. I saw that he was a new man, a happy man. So, I wanted to learn how he changed his life around.”
Religious Freedom for All?
Mironov left and started a similar rehab center in another Kazak city. But he got in trouble with the government when he started leading Muslim residents to Christ. Police eventually raided his rehabilitation center.
“We were all together holding worship. Suddenly the special forces climbed the fence,” he said. “They stormed into the house and started filming our meeting and our singing. They told us we were doing prohibited religious activity.”
Mironov was ordered to stop praying and talking about Christ with the residents — and was fined more than 25 times his monthly salary. Six months later, the facility was raided again and Mironov was ordered to pay another massive fine.
House churches are raided, Christians are jailed and fined excessive amounts — often as much as 50 to 100 times their monthly salaries. Uzbek language Bibles and Christian literature are often confiscated and Christian religious education is also prohibited.
“Senior officials have inherited it in their genes. They do not believe in pluralism. They do not believe in religious freedom,” Corley said. “And they remember the heritage of suspicion of religion and atheist propaganda that they lived through in the Soviet Union .”
Timor and his pastor were jailed after police raided their house church meeting. While imprisoned, they were surprised when police asked them to sing Christian songs.
“The Holy Spirit was present and we understood that the peace of God filled the hearts of every policeman and people who were hearing us,” he recalled. “Later, two policemen opened the jail and they called us and said, ‘Please can you tell us more about your faith and this Lord you were singing about.'”
Guards and inmates heard the gospel that day. Some eventually joined Timor ‘s illegal house church.
“Before I experienced jail I was afraid. But when I was sent there, joy came to my heart and I felt that God was close to me, very close,” Timor said of his journey. “I was a partner with Jesus in His persecutions. It was a privilege and I am happy.”