Christian missionaries arrested during an exam in Tajikistan
Two Central Asian missionaries in Tajikistan were arrested in the middle of a college exam, after secret police officers marched into the college where they were sitting their final paper on 11 June.
The young men, who converted from Islam three years ago in a neighbouring country, had their mobile phones seized and were held for 48 hours as officers searched their homes, confiscating their Christian literature used for church planting and discipleship books.
The pair had lived for two years in Tajikistan, where Christian evangelism is illegal without government authorisation. Their studies gave them a legitimate reason to remain in the country.
At a court hearing on 18 June, the missionaries were fined £340 and ordered to pay £22 costs, before finally being allowed to leave the country on the last day of their visa.
The pastor of the church they attended in their home country said, “God gave them the power of the Holy Spirit to be brave.”
In Tajikistan, an extremely poor country, freedoms for Christians and other religious groups are severely restricted. A draconian religion law, passed in 2009, made all Christian evangelism conducted without government approval illegal. Christians and members of other religious groups can also be prosecuted for importing, exporting, or distributing any religious literature not approved by the authorities. Many Christians, including pastors, have emigrated due to the desperate economic situation and the severe restrictions on practising their faith.
From Barnabas Fund contacts