Turkmenistan

World Watch ranking: 29
Map thumbnail
Leader
President Serdar Berdymukhamedov

How many Christians?
66,000 (1.1%)

Main threat
  • Dictatorial paranoia

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How many Christians are there in Turkmenistan?

There are only around 66,000 Christians in Turkmenistan. The total population is about 6.3 million, the majority of whom are Muslim.

How are Christians persecuted in Turkmenistan?

Although Turkmenistan's Constitution allows for religious freedom, in reality there is little freedom for Christians, with tight restrictions and close surveillance making it very difficult for believers to express and share their faith. The totalitarian government of Turkmenistan uses a huge body of state agents – such as police, secret services and local imams (Muslim leaders) – to closely monitor all religious activities. The printing or importing of Christian materials is restricted. 

Historical Christian communities such as the Russian Orthodox and Armenian Apostolic churches largely abide by government restrictions and so face less interference, although Sunday services may be monitored. Unregistered churches, however, such as Baptist, Evangelical and Pentecostal groups, suffer from raids, threats, arrests and fines. 

What’s life like for Christians in Turkmenistan?

Christians who come from Muslim backgrounds bear the brunt of persecution – not just from the authorities, but from their family, friends and the local community. Men can experience beatings, threats, disinheritance and boycotting of businesses, while women can face house arrest, forced marriage, verbal abuse, threats, social rejection and sexual assault.

Church leaders in Turkmenistan are mostly male and are especially vulnerable to persecution as they are seen as responsible for leading people away from Islam. The state authorities target them to try to control Christian activities and spread fear among their congregations. This means that the authorities look for any excuse to fine Christian leaders – for example, holding an 'illegal' gathering, having Christian literature in the home, or even having worship songs on their smartphone.

How can I help Christians in Central Asia?

Please keep praying for your brothers and sisters in Turkmenistan. Your prayers make an enormous difference to those following Jesus no matter the cost.

Open Doors strengthens persecuted Christians in Central Asia by providing Bibles and Christian literature, biblical and vocational training, medical and social care, socio-economic development projects, and children's, youth and women's ministries.

please pray

Father God, refresh the spirits of our brothers and sisters who are wearied by restrictions and surveillance. May their experience of Your love empower their faith. Guide and equip church leaders as they navigate different challenges. Hide church gatherings from the prying eyes of the authorities, and we ask that these meetings will stir an unquenchable faith in all those present. Give Your people boldness in the face of hostility, and we pray that their lives will compel those around them to discover more about You. Change the atmosphere in Turkmenistan, build up Your church, and draw more and more people to You. Amen.

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