Muslim militants used Molotov cocktails to set fire to the Evangelical Christian Baptist Church in Kaji-Say in the early hours of 3 January. The building, which stands on the south shore of Lake Issyk Kul, was badly damaged in the blaze, with many pews destroyed.
But the Bible on the altar survived, despite the altar cloth being consumed by flames. Local Christians are interpreting this as a sign from God that they should stand firm in their faith and keep going. Firefighters called to tackle the blaze found several full bottles of petrol which had failed to ignite.
A Release International partner in Kyrgyzstan described the undamaged Bible as “An amazing sign. This happened once before when Communists set fire to a Pentecostal church. The Bible and that building survived too, and there is no doubt the church in Kyrgyzstan will survive – and continue to preach the Gospel.”
Churches in Kyrgyzstan have faced growing opposition, but this is the first to be firebombed for several years. Kyrgyz Christians are now under pressure from both Islamic radicals and the state authorities.
Sources: Release International, Release partner