Updated: Dec 2, 2019
Always being watched
Turkmenistan is extremely repressive for religious minorities. No religious activities beyond state-run and state-controlled institutions are allowed. Government paranoia results in the constant monitoring of religious activities, including tight restrictions on printing or importing Christian materials.
And the police, secret services and local authorities raid non-registered churches and infiltrate church services. Even Russian Orthodox and Armenian Apostolic churches may experience Sunday services being monitored. The Islamic culture also makes life for converts to Christianity particularly difficult. Given increased nationalism and the views of the dictatorial president, the pressure on Christians in this former Soviet republic will likely remain high.
How Christians are suffering
It is very common for members of Protestant churches to be regarded as followers of an alien sect aiming to depose the government—reinforcing the government’s need to control and eradicate Christians. Indigenous Muslims who convert to Christianity are most persecuted, including pressure and occasional physical violence from families, friends and local community attempting to force them to return to their former faith. Some converts are even locked up by their families for long periods of time, beaten and may eventually be expelled from their communities. In areas where churches have not been registered, Christians suffer repeatedly from acts of Christian persecution, including police raids, threats, arrests and fines.
Ever since a new law on religious organizations and religious freedom was introduced in March 2016, Turkmenistan authorities have exerted tighter controls on church life. All religious entities are required to re-register, but evangelical churches have been repeatedly denied registration.
In April 2018, a house meeting of converts was raided. Everyone present was arrested, taken to a police station and questioned for several hours. After the questioning, all were released, however group members have remained under strict police surveillance ever since.
Christians have reported intimidation by teachers and police in schools, according to regional news agency Forum 18. School officials have reportedly brought in Muslim clerics to intimidate non-Muslim children.
Pray for Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan is considered one of the most restrictive countries in the world. Pray for increased freedoms in this former Soviet republic.Pray for believers who are former Muslims. They are fiercely pressured by families and Muslim society to return to Islam. Pray for protection and endurance.Pray for the safety of Christian children in Muslim-dominated schools as they face discrimination from both teachers and classmates.Pray that police officers and secret service members who are infiltrating churches and monitoring Christians would encounter the gospel in miraculous and Kingdom-building ways. Ask God to use their exposure to the Word to speak to their hearts.
Turkmenistan Photo Gallery
Stories from Turkmenistan
August 12, 2018
What's happening to Christian believers in today's Central Asia republics? And what do you need to know to pray with empathy and knowledge? Read More
May 21, 2018
Former Muslims, now Christians, share their stories of finding Jesus during Ramadan and the catalytic impact of their newfound faith on their lives. Read More
June 4, 2017
Karina, a Turkmen teacher, knew Jesus’ call for total abandonment to Him; however, she never expected the police to show up during a work meeting and tell her to renounce her faith in the God of the Christians. Read More