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Current Events: Kazakhstan

Arabian PeninsulaPeople in Kazakhstan playing a traditional game. Learn more about the game here.

Kazakhstan became an independent country in 1991, and they celebrate their Independence Day on December 16th. Before 1991, Kazakhstan was part of the U.S.S. R., often called “the Soviet Union.”

The “stan” at the end of Kazakhstan’s name means “land of.” Many countries in the region end in “stan.” Kazakhstan means “land of the Kazakh people,” Tajikistan means “land of the Tajik people,” Afghanistan is “the land of the Afghan people,” etc.

But earlier this year, the president of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, said that he might want to change the name of his country. He feels that Kazakhstan does not get enough attention from the rest of the world because its name ends in “stan.”

As an example, President Nazarbayev notes that people in other countries pay attention to Mongolia, but Mongolia does not end in “stan.” Perhaps people might pay more attention to Kazakhstan if it had a different name, the president said. He suggested that maybe it should be called “Kazakh Eli,” which means “Kazakh Nation.”

New Rules for Christians
President Nazarbayev has been the leader of his country for more than 20 years. In recent years his government has put rules in place that have made it harder for churches to remain open and Christians to share their faith.

To Discuss

  • Several central Asian countries end in “stan,” meaning “land of.” Besides England, how many countries can you name that end in “land?”
  • Do you think changing Kazakhstan’s name will help the country?
  • If it were illegal for you to talk to people about Jesus and to encourage them to follow Him, would you still do it?

Photo credit: Jeremy T. Lock / Wikipedia

Message from Maryland

Bibles to Captive Nations

The following message to The Voice of the Martyrs came from a teacher in Maryland.

“Greetings! I would like to say how much I appreciate this website as a resource in helping my students understand the plight of the persecuted church. I am a fifth-grade teacher at a Christian school in Maryland. In Bible class our focus is on Luke and Acts, with an additional study of missions and persecution throughout history.

“We pray for a different persecuted country every day, and the students vie for a chance to “pick the country” and learn about their Christian brothers and sisters. They were also inspired to raise money for The Voice of the Martyrs by making holiday crafts and selling them at a Christian vendor sale. All of the money is going to buy Bibles [link to] for Christians in restricted or hostile countries.

“Praise God for how He works in the hearts of children!” — Janeen I.

(Edited from the original.)

VOM Prayer Calendar

VOM Prayer Calendar

Are you looking for a gift for someone who has a heart for persecuted Christians?

The Voice of the Martyrs’ 2015 calendar provides daily reminders to pray for persecuted Christians and for the lost.

Find more information on VOM Books.

If you’d rather make your own prayer calendar, you can find instructions here.

Christians Attacked for Praying on Christmas


The following report from a Christian in India told what happened on Christmas last year at a house church.

A widow and her daughter organized a Christmas prayer meeting at their house at 7:30 p.m. on December 25, 2013. A pastor and other believers gathered to honor Jesus.

Most of the people in their village and in all the nearby villages were Hindus. As the Christians started to worship, about 20 radical Hindus rushed into the house. They shouted at the Christians and scolded everyone in bad language. They said the Christians were spoiling the Hindu culture.

They snatched Bibles from the Christians’ hands and tore them in pieces. Then they called the police and falsely reported that the Christians were forcing Hindus to become Christians. The police came and took the pastor and five Christians to jail.

A lawyer helped them get released the next morning.

Pray for peace for Christians in India and around the world this Christmas.

To Think About

  • In what ways will you celebrate Christmas this year?
  • Will any of your celebrations put you in danger?
  • How can you use your freedom in ways that honor Jesus?

Iran: Christians in Prison at Christmas

Farshid Fathi

In recent years Christians in Iran have had more threats and problems at Christmastime. Last year, police raided an Iranian church on Christmas Eve. They took the Christians’ books, CDs, laptops, and a TV. Then they arrested the Christians.

Fashid Fathi is a Christian who has been in prison for his Christian activities since 2010. He has a wife and two children, Rosana and Bardia.

He wrote the following letter to other Christians in 2013.

Dear brothers and sisters,

We are celebrating Christmas in prison with honor and unexplainable joy in Christ. 2013 is going to end and we are very thankful to the Lord for everything we were given this year. I had called 2013 ‘the year of revelation.’

Now I am very excited because I am calling 2014 ‘the year of God’s presence.’ God calls us to walk before Him and be blameless, as He said to Abraham. So far, walking before Him is very sweet and so exciting. It is filled with great endurance, afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, sleepless nights, hunger, purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love, truthful speech and the power of God.

Thank you so much for remembering me in your prayers.

With blessings in Christ, your brother, Farshid.

Fathi has now spent another year in prison. You can send him an encouraging note through Prisoner Alert.


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