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Afghanistan

Afghanistan

Afghanistan

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Capital
Kabul

Size
A little smaller than Texas.

Main Languages
Dari, Pashtu

Time
At 6:00 a.m. U.S. Central Standard Time, it is 4:30 p.m. in Afghanistan.

Interesting Fact
Afghanistan is a land with no church buildings. Christians meet secretly in small house churches.

History
After terrorists bombed buildings in the U.S. in 2001, the U.S. led a “war on terrorism.” As part of that fight, the U.S. got rid of the radical Muslim “Taliban” government of Afghanistan and helped the country set up a different government. This brought new hope, but Afghanistan still does not have freedom of religion.

Religion
More than 95 percent of the people in Afghanistan are Muslims. Radical Muslim Taliban soldiers ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001. Under Taliban rule, music, television, games, and videos were against the law. Any Muslim who became a Christian could be executed. Even without the Taliban, Afghanistan is still a very Muslim nation, with about 48,000 mosques. (A mosque is a Muslim place of worship.) Some Afghans learn about Jesus through radio programs that are broadcast from other countries. Muslims who decide to follow Christ risk persecution from their own families and other Muslims.

Persecution
If someone in Afghanistan says they are a follower of Jesus, they risk serious persecution. Family members and neighbors may attack them. The police and government officials do not stop people from persecuting Christians.

Radical Muslims do not want missionaries and Christians workers who share their faith with Muslims to come to Afghanistan. They have kidnapped Christians who came to Afghanistan to help people.


Algeria

Algeria

Algeria

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Capital
Algiers

Size
Slightly less than 3.5 times the size of Texas.

Main Languages
Arabic, French, Berber

Time
At 6:00 a.m. U.S. Central Standard Time, it is 12:00 p.m. in Algeria.

History
France used to rule Algeria. In 1962, Algeria became an independent country. Since then, Algerian people have suffered from frequent violence and wars.

Religion
Algerians are predominantly Muslim.

Persecution
Islam is the official religion of Algeria. However, many people in Algeria are becoming Christians! But the government places limits on Christian activities. Anyone who writes materials, or makes tapes or DVDs that “shakes the faith of Muslims” can go to jail. Matthew 7:24–25 and Hebrews 12:28 tell us that Jesus offers a faith that will keep us from being shaken.


Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan

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Capital
Baku

Size
Azerbaijan is about the same size as the U.S. state of South Carolina.

Main Languages
Azeri, Russian

Time

At 6:00 a.m. U.S. Central Standard Time, it is 4:00 a.m. in Baku.

Interesting Fact
The C.I.A. reports that in one recent year Azerbaijan had 1.3 million landline phones and 7.7 million cell phones. The population is about 8 million.

History
The U.S.S.R. (often called “The Soviet Union”) was the largest communist country in the world. In the early 1990s, it broke up into many smaller countries. Azerbaijan was one of those countries. Today most of the people are Muslims.

Religion
More than 90% of the people in Azerbaijan say they are Muslim. But many do not take their faith seriously. Fewer than 10% are Christian.

Zoroastrianism was a main religion in Azerbaijan before the Muslims came. Today the people still honor traditions from Zoroastrianism. (See “Their Beliefs” for more information.)

Persecution
Even though many people in Azerbaijan are not serious about their Muslim faith, many do not like it when a Muslim becomes a Christian. They think Islam is part of their culture. Friends and relatives discourage Muslims from following Christ. Officials sometimes give churches and Christians a hard time.

It is often difficult for young adult Christians to find someone to marry who also follows Christ. Since marriage is an important part of their culture, they are often urged to marry a Muslim.


Bangladesh

Bangladesh

Bangladesh

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Capital
Dhaka

Size
In area, Bangladesh is a little larger than the state of Iowa. But, Bangladesh is very crowded. It has a larger population than the eight most populous U.S. states combined: California, New York, Texas, Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Michigan.

A Christian worker in Bangladesh said, “With 147 million people in Bangladesh, that would be like squeezing half of everyone in the U.S. into the state of Iowa. Bangladesh is the 7th largest country in the world in population.”

Main Languages
Bangla (also known as Bengali), English

Time
At 6:00 a.m. U.S. Central Standard Time, it is 6:00 p.m. in Bangladesh.

Interesting Fact
Some ladies in Bangladesh are buying cell phones to help them earn money for their families. Many villages have no phone service. People pay to use the ladies’ “village phones” to make phone calls.

History
Bangladesh was part of India until 1947. Then it became East Pakistan. Bangladesh became an independent country in 1971. Natural disasters are common in Bangladesh.

Religion
Bangladesh has the fourth largest Muslim population in the world. Less than one percent of the population is Christian.

Persecution
Islam is the official religion of Bangladesh. It is not against the law for Christians to worship, but they do face serious persecution, especially if they are Christians who used to be Muslims. Muslims do not want people leaving Islam to follow Christ.

Muslim mobs often cause Christians trouble. They threaten Christians, attack them, tear down their houses, refuse to let them drink clean water from public water wells, and destroy the rickshaws that some Christians use to make a living.


Belarus

Belarus

Belarus

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Capital
Minsk

Size
Slightly smaller than Kansas.

Main Languages
Belarusian and Russian

Time
At 6:00 a.m. U.S. Central Standard Time, it is 2:00 p.m. in Belarus.

History
The U.S.S.R. (often called “The Soviet Union”) was the largest communist country in the world. In the early 1990s, it broke up into many smaller countries. Belarus was one of those countries.

Religion
The majority of the people are part of the Eastern Orthodox Church.

Persecution
The government in Belarus tries to strictly control Christian activity. Only churches that are registered with the government can meet for worship. Christian groups with fewer than 20 members are not allowed. Most Christian gatherings in homes are against the law.

The government uses newspapers and other news media to insult Christian groups that they do not like. They control and limit Christian materials that are printed.