Church Liquidation in Azerbaijan

Church liguidation decision to be made on July 31.

As Russian Ministries reported in May, Greater Grace Church in Azerbaijan has been threatened with liquidation by the government under laws suppressing religious freedom.  (To read our earlier message on Greater Grace Church and other persecution in the FSU, click here.)

Since then, God has graciously used the prayers and support of friends like you to open the door for hope.

The church’s appeal hearing was held on Tuesday, July 17, and the change in the court’s attitude was dramatic.  Pastor Fuad of Greater Grace Church reports that the hearing was a real attempt to discover the truth.  Unlike the previous hearing, the church’s attorney was allowed to present their arguments.

The Representative of the State Committee for Work with Religious Organizations admitted that their only real complaint was that the committee did not like the church.  The Representative further admitted that they were under “intense pressure from all over the world.”

After carefully listening to both sides, the judge postponed the decision until July 31.

Pastor Fuad thanks every friend of Russian Ministries who has created this “intense pressure” through their prayers and:
1,000 petitions to the Embassy of Azerbaijan in the U.S.
1,000 petitions to the Embassy of Azerbaijan in Germany
3,000+ petitions distributed to the U.S. Congress
An electronic petition to the U.S. Congress

Between now and July 31, please pray daily that the judge will rule in favor of Greater Grace Church, sending a signal to the State Committee that persecution of innocent Christians will not be tolerated.

Here are four more steps you can take right now to support Greater Grace Church and persecuted Christians across the former Soviet Union:

1. Pray for God’s protection for all believers in the FSU, for His intervention in the governments of Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, and other persecuting nations, and for freedom of religion and revival in the region.

2. Give to Russian Ministries to help support national leaders in their fight for religious freedom by continuing to provide Christian literature, training, and support to Christians, and especially pastors, in persecuted regions.

3. Contact the Embassy of Azerbaijan in the U.S. to protest the closure of Greater Grace Church and all other attempts to eradicate Christianity from their country, before July 31:

By email: or
By phone:
1 202 337 35 00
By fax:
1 202 337 59 11
By mail:
2741 34th Street NW, Washington, DC 20008

4. Learn more ways you can help persecuted believers in the former Soviet Union by contacting Wade Kusak, Russian Ministries’ Project Manager for Religious Freedom Issues in Eurasia, at:

Russian Ministries is committed to lending its time and effort generously to serve Christians across the globe, helping them stay ahead of developments in their own nations and equipping the Next Generation of Christian leaders worldwide


Imprisoned for Christ

A story of persecution—and hope—from Turkmenistan

Across the former Soviet Union, a rising tide of persecution against evangelical Christians and other religious minorities is challenging the church. This persecution has no single source. Some originates with governments cracking down on freedom of thought and expression in their nations. Some is an attempt by a Muslim majority to stop the spread of Christianity. And sadly, some even comes from the Orthodox Church, which feels threatened by today’s vocal, spiritually dedicated and socially engaged evangelical church.

And just as it was during the Soviet era, these efforts to stamp out Christianity rely on intimidation and false accusations. The case of Pastor Ilmurad Nurliev, leader of Light to the World Church in Mary, southern Turkmenistan, is a “textbook” example—and an example of how Russian Ministries’ supporters like you can really make a difference!

Falsely Accused

On August 27, 2010, Pastor Nurliev was arrested on charges of large-scale swindling. Three people claimed that Pastor Nurliev had extracted money from them, and even forced them to hand over 10% of their income. They claimed that neither Pastor Nurliev nor his wife worked, and simply lived off the proceeds of their swindling.

These accusations are clearly false, motivated only by a desire to stop his ministry. Pastor Nurliev has long made his living as a barber. His wife has documented proof that she has worked for a local cotton factory since 1998. Not only this, but two of the witnesses never attended the court hearing, one changed her story as to the amount Pastor Nurliev allegedly swindled . . . and one, it can be proven, was actually in prison at the time she claimed she handed money to Pastor Nurliev.

Cruelly Treated

Despite the obvious inconsistencies of the “evidence,” Pastor Nurliev was sentenced to four years at the general regime labor camp, and ordered to repay his “victims.” He was also denied his Bible in prison, and his family was unable to provide his diabetic supplies.

Most distressing of all was the directive that Pastor Nurliev be “given forcible medical treatment to wean him off his narcotic dependency.” A letter from the chief doctor of Mary District Hospital proves that he was registered as a blood donor in 2008. As his wife says. “They wouldn’t have accepted him if he was a drug addict.”

Miraculously Freed

When Russian Ministries became aware of Pastor Nurliev’s story, our Project Manager for Religious Freedom Issues in Eurasia, Wade Kusak, immediately began an initiative to have him freed. Our team called churches for prayer and sent out postcards for believers to send to the embassy of Turkmenistan in the US. In all, about 1,000 postcards were sent, and 28 churches committed to pray for Pastor Nurliev’s family and support efforts for his release on a regular basis.

By God’s grace, Pastor Nurliev was released on amnesty with a group of about 230 prisoners on February 18, 2012, nearly 18 months after his arrest. He was the only prisoner of conscience freed. The day after his release, Pastor Nurliev said in a phone call with Wade Kusak, “I’ve been told about all the prayers and support. I even felt those prayers in my cell, and it helped me a lot, not only to endure all the false accusations, but to continue witnessing to those around me.”

And although church registration and public Protestant-style worship are currently impossible in Turkmenistan, his sister says, “He is worshipping and serving God! How can he live without it?” She also added that local police and authorities, who once hated him, now treat him with respect because of his uncompromising faith.

The stories of persecution we hear from the FSU can be discouraging. But Pastor Nurliev’s story reminds us that with God all things are possible, and we can help our brothers and sisters in Christ when we pray and support them. A special thank you to everyone who prayed and sent postcards to help free Pastor Nurliev!

Page 1 ... 14 15 16 17 18