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Azerbaijan
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Overview:

As a former Soviet republic on the Caspian Sea, Azerbaijan’s churches developed in the wake of the Soviet Union’s dissolution. Although Azerbaijan is rich in oil and gas reserves, corruption and the country’s authoritarian government have impeded economic growth. Nevertheless, poverty has been reduced and the country’s infrastructure is gradually improving.

Major Religions:

85 percent of Azerbaijanis are Shiite Muslims and 2 percent are Christians.

Persecutor:

Families are the main persecutors of Christians. Azerbaijan has a shame-honor culture in which those who leave Islam are considered to have brought shame on the family. The government also pressures Christians with heavy fines.

What It Means To Follow Christ In Azerbaijan:

For many years now, churches have been denied the ability to register legally. Secret police attend and sometimes raid church meetings, which the government classifies as illegal. In 2015, the government published a list of banned religious books that included the Old Testament. Those caught with banned religious literature are fined. The government is tightening restrictions and often asks church leaders to submit lists of members’ names. Some pastors and leaders feel this is an attempt to gather information for later use against church members or pastors. Many Christians faithfully share Christ with neighbors and family members despite legal pressure and possible fines.

Access To Bibles:

Bibles are difficult to obtain. Churches can purchase them, but they cannot be printed legally. Give Bibles

VOM Work:

VOM brings Bibles, including children’s Bibles, into the country and provides legal assistance to persecuted pastors and churches. Give to VOM’s Global Ministry

Prayer Requests:

  • Pray that churches will reach out to those who lost income during pandemic quarantines.
  • Pray that believers will use technology effectively to proclaim the gospel.
  • Pray for President Ilham Aliyev and the government.
  • Pray for front-line workers reaching those in small towns and villages.
  • Pray for unity and friendship among churches and pastors.