How many Christians are there in Turkmenistan?
There are only around 66,700 Christians in Turkmenistan. The total population is just over 6.2 million, the majority of whom are Muslim.
How are Christians persecuted in Turkmenistan?
In Turkmenistan, persecution against Christians comes from most parts of society. The government heavily restricts religious freedom: while unregistered churches are most heavily targeted, even Russian Orthodox and Armenian Apostolic churches are heavily monitored by the authorities.
In addition to official pressure, Christians who have converted from Islam also face pressure from their families and communities, including harassment and interrogation, beatings, disinheritance and house arrest. Women and girls remain vulnerable to sexual harassment and rape, although they rarely report such instances due to the stigma and shame attached and the impunity regularly granted to perpetrators. Abusing women is used as an instrument to intimidate and cause distress for their husbands and family members, thereby pressuring the wider Christian community.
What’s life like for Christians in Turkmenistan?
Church leaders are particularly vulnerable as targets for persecution – whether through unwarranted fines, physical attacks or arrest and imprisonment on false charges.
Fines can be issued for holding illegal gatherings, possessing religious literature and even for downloading Christian songs. Printing and importing Christian materials is restricted, so there is a dwindling lack of resources to support local Christians.
Christian converts from Islam are the most vulnerable to persecution, and many hide their faith to avoid being targeted by their families and communities.
How can I help Christians in Central Asia?
Please keep praying for your brothers and sisters in Turkmenistan. Your gifts and prayers make an enormous difference to those following Jesus no matter the cost.
Open Doors strengthens persecuted Christians in Central Asia by providing Bibles and Christian literature, biblical and vocational training, socio-economic development projects, and children’s, youth and women’s ministries.
Father God, encourage Your children in Turkmenistan who follow You in secret. Let them know Your love and care for them. Comfort those who have been rejected or abused by their families. Heal their emotional and physical wounds and bring them into a community of supportive believers. Help church leaders to navigate the restrictions and surveillance on their churches. Infuse their worship with joy and power so that their meetings encourage the people who monitor and seek to shut them down. Amen.