Azerbaijan

6 09 2012

Azerbaijan: 87% Muslim, 2.75% Christian. (Others include Non-religious, Jewish and Baha’i). Population: 9 million people. Unfortunately, Christianity retains an unhealthy association with Russian Imperialism, Armenian enmity and Western neo-colonialism.

Most Azerbaijani towns and villages have never been reached with the gospel at all.

They do not know of the resurrection of Jesus, of hope, and of the purpose of his sufferings and death. “And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim Christ?”…”Faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word—the preaching—of Christ’. (Romans 10:14c, 17). That is, as we go, it is Christ Jesus who himself preaches to a person’s heart and mind and conscience.

The capital, Baku was ‘the world’s original oil-boom city overhj a century ago’. Even so, some 40% of the people live in poverty.

Situated to the west of the Caspian Sea, Azerbaijan has Russia and Georgia, to the north. It has Armenia to the west. It has Iran to the south.

A quick overview of the political background helps:

“A long history of subjugation by Arabs, Mongols, Persians, Turks and Russians. Independent in 1991 from the USSR. A difficult first decade was beset by internal coups and war with Armenia over the enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh in West Azerbaijan. Nearly 1 million Azeris were displaced by this conflict. The President, re-elected in a shady election, is the son of the previous president. They have overseen a political shift away from Russia toward Turkey and the West.” (Operation World, p. 126)

The number of believers in Jesus Christ continues to grow, although most Christians are still foreign ethnicities. the majority of believers are in Baku … where there are many Azeril-led and Azeri-language congregations. However the church faces intensifying opposition even as it grows. Draconian registration laws are making it difficult for Christians, and for all faiths, including Muslims. The Caucasus peoples, and minority groups of peoples, like Talysh, Tat and Kurds, remain largely unreached.

Special Point from a news item: “Azerbaijan faces serious problems with gender mainstreaming and women’s rights protection”.

Christian literature, Bible translation and quiet expatriate ministries are taking place. However there is a need for more radio programmes in Azeri.

In this politically volatile nation, O Lord, grant your peace, so that less military expenditure will be needed. Amidst the nation, may the Word of Christ , the Living One, go forth with power, to tell the joyful news of Christ Jesus—and his gracious, genuine, joyful, secure kingdom over all.

http://www.eng.kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/13393/

Good news: Christian music, literature, poetry and other expressions of worship and culture are beginning to flourish.

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