BACKGROUND: Kyrgyzstan is one of the poorest former Soviet states in Central Asia. Only 10 percent of this mountainous country is suitable for farming; as a result, the Kyrgyz people have a proud nomadic tradition centered on raising sheep and horses. Conflicts occasionally arise between ethnic groups.
MAJOR RELIGIONS: Kyrgyzstan is a majority Muslim nation that returned to its perceived religious roots after gaining independence from the USSR.
PERSECUTOR: Christians are persecuted mostly by family members and neighbors. Imams in cities often refuse to allow Christians to be buried in cemeteries.
WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A CHRISTIAN IN KYRGYZSTAN: Some churches worship openly, even in small towns, but being a Christian is difficult because of the Islamic culture. Beatings aren’t uncommon, and the small Christian minority is generally oppressed by society. For example, buses won’t stop for those known as Christians in small communities, and they have difficulty getting jobs and even purchasing goods. Authorities recently released a believer from prison who had been falsely accused because of his faith.
ACCESS TO BIBLES: Bibles are more accessible than in other Central Asian nations. They can be purchased at registered churches in larger cities, but they are expensive.
VOM WORK: VOM provides medical care to Christians injured in attacks and helps believers become self-supporting.