Kazakh Police Break Up Worship, Arrest Pastor and Family

May 3, 2011

A congregation in Kazakhstan experienced police persecution in early May. A native missionary pastor and others were arrested, and are being secretly held in custody according to leaders associated with ministry.

Along with the pastor and his wife and children, the police also arrested the church administrator and his wife. They cut off power to the church building during services. No word has been heard from those who were arrested - nor was any reason given for break up the legally registered church services.

According to a visiting preacher at the service, security forces from the government deliberately attempted to break up the worship services and provoke resistance from the pastor and people. However, the Christians peacefully went on praying and worshipping despite the disruption. When electric power to church building was cut off, the believers continued to sing and praise the Lord in the dark.

Police arresting pastor and his family in Kazakhstan

During the service, two men in civilian dress came in and started taking video pictures of people's faces. Then several police squads appeared and pushed their way through the congregation to the platform without presenting any documents.

The men in civilian dress, who appeared to be Kazakh KGB agents, were told that the service was legal and was being held at the registered address of the church with the permission of the Ministry of Justice.

"I just had to pray and trust in the Lord," said one minister. "I quoted words from the Psalms to those who were locked up in the building and read the passage from our Lord's Sermon on the Mount about being persecuted for righteousness sake.

"Then from out of nowhere the police produced witnesses, who were obviously drunk, to sign some kind of complaint form. It was clear that the witnesses didn't care where they put their signatures, nor had they even read the complaint form.

"I was really shocked when I saw how they took the children to the car. One was crying and holding her mother, scared of what was going on. All of them were locked up in the police wagon with no seats or windows, and driven away to an unknown destination. After they took the pastors and children we were praying to the Lord."

"We need to get this news out to the world. Let us pray around the world for their release and for religious freedom in Kazakhstan."

Congregations in other Kazakh towns have also been persecuted in a similar manner. In October 2010 the KGB stopped the sermon and turned off the electricity in one church and in 2009 the sermon was stopped at a church meeting in Aktobinsk.

The Republic of Kazakhstan boasts a booming economy and has struggled to establish religious freedom after decades of harsh Soviet rule. There are 76 people groups in the vast country which has a large land area. There is a fast-growing Christian community among the Kazakhs and they continue to preach the gospel. Christian Aid has been sending financial aid to indigenous ministries there for 20 years.