Bakhrom’s Kholmatov’s family say they are looking forward to Bakhrom’s expected release in April of 2020.
According to Bakhrom’s wife Gulnora, the first two years were a struggle, but now that his release date is less than a year away, she feels like she is nearing the end of a difficult season. Gulnora began to suffer from severe high blood pressure after her husband was detained. Fortunately, she has started to experience an improvement in her health.
Pastor Bakhrom Kholmatov, who was detained by police in April 2017, was sentenced in July 2017 to three years in prison. The 44-year-old pastor also known as Bakhrom Holmatov, was arrested after KNB (national security) officers raided the Sonmin Sonbogym (Good News of Grace) Protestant Church, harassing and beating church members in addition to arresting the pastor. During the raid, the officers confiscated items from the church, including the pastor’s computer and the book More Than a Carpenter by Josh McDowell.
Officials claim that Christian songs found on Pastor Bakhrom’s computer and the More Than a Carpenter book are “extremist materials”.
Source: The Voice of the Martyrs USA
- Pray for Pastor Bakhrom and his family as they look forward to reaching the end of this difficult trial. Pray they may finish this time well. Thank the Lord for Gulnora’s improved health.
- Pray for Pastor Bakhrom as he considers his future, ask the Lord for His leading.
- Pray the Lord will provide Pastor Bakhrom with opportunities to share the Gospel while he remains in detention.
You can write a note of encouragement to the family:
Mikrorajon 32, house nr. 50
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Government authorities in Tajikistan appear to be enforcing an existing law that prohibits religious instruction for children.
According to Christian contacts in the country, officials from the KGB and the Committee of Religion visited several churches recently, issuing written warnings against children’s religious education. Although the law prohibiting religious education for children has existed since 2011, it has been enforced mainly on Muslims until now. These recent warnings, however, have caused concern among church leaders.
Christian converts from a Muslim background are most vulnerable to persecution in Tajikistan. Non-traditional Christian communities, like the Baptist Church, also suffer from raids, threats, arrests and fines by authorities.
Recently, 5,000 calendars with Bible verses, which were imported by the Baptist Church, were confiscated by custom officials and destroyed. The church also received a fine of about four months’ average wage for “producing, distributing, importing, or exporting religious literature and items of a religious nature which have not passed through the compulsory prior state religious censorship”.
A customs official told Radio Free Europe that inspection had shown the calendars had “elements of propaganda of an alien faith”.
Sources: The Voice of the Martyrs USA, World Watch Monitor, Forum 18
- Pray that those currently teaching children about God’s love, will be able to continue their important work.
- Pray also that church leaders will see the need for addressing the spiritual needs of children.
- Commit to the Lord the churches directly targeted by the authorities; pray the Lord will grant them wisdom and boldness.
Post your prayer for the children of Tajikistan in the comments below.
Gulnora’s problems with hypertension began soon after the secret police arrested her husband, Pastor Bakhrom Kholmatov.
Bakhrom, 42, was arrested on 10 April 2017 in a raid on the Sonmin Sonbogym (Good News of Grace) Protestant Church by secret police. They also harassed and beat church members while confiscating items from the church, including the pastor’s computer and the book More Than a Carpenter, by Josh McDowell.
At his trial in July, Bakhrom was sentenced to three years in prison for possession of “extremist material.”
To visit her husband in prison, Gulnora has to make a six-hour journey, it was during one of these trips that Gulnora suddenly became ill. She was taken to a local hospital, too sick to even visit her husband. After being diagnosed with high blood pressure, she was transferred to a hospital closer to her home.
Source: The Voice of the Martyrs USA
- Ask the Lord to strengthen Gulnora physically and spiritually so she may be fully healed and remain strong during this time of great testing.
- Pray she will be encouraged as she receives love and care from her Christian family.
- Commit to the Lord Bakhrom. Pray the Lord would sustain him. May he be given many opportunities to share the Gospel while in prison and rejoice as he sees the Holy Spirit at work.
In early July, Pastor Bakhrom Kholmatov was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment by the Khujand City Court in Tajikistan’s Sogd Region for allegedly “singing extremist songs in church and inciting religious hatred”. Officials have threatened the pastor’s family, friends and church members with reprisals if they reveal any details of his case, trial or imprisonment.
The 42-year-old pastor of Sunmin Sunbogym (Full Gospel) Protestant Church was first held in custody by the National Security Committee (NSC) secret police after he was arrested in April. While on trial, Pastor Bakhrom had been detained at a police detention centre. However, he was more recently moved to an unknown prison.
The NSC secret police, together with the State Committee for Religious Affairs and other law-enforcement agencies, initially raided the church’s affiliated congregations in Sogd Region in early February. Officials then closed down a church in the town of Konibodom in March after interrogating its members. In addition, the NSC officers pressured employers into firing these Christians from their jobs.
After Pastor Bakhrom’s arrest in April, the Khujand church was also raided, and congregation members were harassed and beaten. Yet, there have been no arrests or trials of the officials who carried out the beatings, contrary to Tajikistan’s binding international human rights law obligations under the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhumane or Degrading Treatment/Punishment.
In defiance of its international human rights obligations, Tajikistan severely restricts its citizens’ rights to freedom of religion or belief. Additionally, authorities impose this ban without state permission. Due to the raids, interrogation and harassment, a large group of believers have also stopped attending church, as they are concerned about the possibility of arrest.
Source: Forum 18 News Service
- Pray that Pastor Bakhrom and his family will continue to draw strength from our Almighty God, who alone is able to truly save and deliver (Psalm 34:17).
- Uphold all the members of our Christian family in Tajikistan, asking the Lord to intervene on behalf of His persecuted people. Pray there will be opportunities to meet.
- Pray for the officials involved; ask that their hearts will be turned toward Christ through the living witness of these believers.