Discipling "New" Christians Under Watching Eyes

by Pat Humes

Central Asia

Orthodox Christianity and Islam are the dominant religions in Central Asia. It is an area where religion, customs, and politics are closely intertwined. Adherents who continue with their traditional rituals and abide by government regulations are left alone. But gospel preaching Christian missionaries are suspect.

Authorities in the former Soviet Union states look down on new converts, accusing them of being traitors to tradition. They believe a new convert would just as easily denounce his country, as he would his family and traditions. Most governmental officials fear there could be a rebellion among these "new" Christians.

This then is the setting in which indigenous ministries carry out their work. Most work is done underground – even the training. There are some training centers in larger cities, such as Tashkent, where there are enough Christians to fulfill the state requirement of 100 people to qualify as a registered church. Even so, training is done discreetly.