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Panoramic view of Talgar
Talgar, Kazakhstan
Photo: Wikipedia / Makvlad (cc)

For the past five years, the New Life Pentecostal Church has encountered repeated problems while trying to gain access to banking services – to the point of the recurring situation being described as "incomprehensible." With no access, the church administration has had difficulties paying necessary taxes, along with numerous other challenges.

The problem began during April 2017 when the church, located in Talgar of the southern Almaty Region, received a donation from abroad to help with the purchase of a church building. The bank considered the transaction "suspicious" and referred it to the Finance Ministry, resulting in the church's account being frozen. It took more than three years, along with court action, before access to the bank account was regained. However, the bank then announced that the church had three days to remove all funds before the account was to be permanently closed. Unfortunately, this was not the end of the banking issues.

In April 2021, a different bank branch cancelled an account belonging to the church because the ministry was found to be listed by the Financial Monitoring Agency as a "high-risk" or "suspicious" organization. The list is routinely circulated to all banks for the intent of tracking individuals and businesses potentially connected with terrorism or extremism.

While a church can exist without a bank account, there will be a significant amount of difficulty trying to conduct tax transactions, employment payroll and other financial dealings. This church is not alone in dealing with such issues. Some Islamic organizations, along with the Jehovah's Witnesses headquarters, and 12 of their congregations, have also been listed. When contacted, the monitoring agency was unwilling to state which organizations had been flagged and what procedures were required to be removed from the list. Thankfully, after four years, the Jehovah's Witnesses were finally informed on September 16th that they were no longer listed as a "high-risk entity" and were able to regain access to their bank accounts.

The New Life Church in Kazakhstan and its branches have long been targeted by the government. The New Life Church in Almaty, which is a separate legal entity, has particularly experienced ongoing problems, including the seizure of two buildings and the arrest of three pastors (see this page for more details). The pastors, who are now living in exile, would face prison if they returned to the country. For more accounts of the various challenges facing Christians in Kazakhstan, go to our country report.

Please prayerfully uphold the church leaders presently experiencing these banking issues, including the representatives of the church in Talgar, asking the Lord to mediate on their behalf so an effective resolution can be obtained. Throughout the process, may the country's various governmental agencies – namely, the Financial Monitoring Agency – willingly collaborate, even if they are not in agreement with the congregations' Christian beliefs. Additionally, please pray that the churches in Kazakhstan will be able to continue their ministries unhindered, seizing every opportunity to reach out with the "Good News" of the Gospel.

Current Ministry Project

VOMC has come alongside project partners to offer English-language training camps as opportunities for evangelism and outreach among youth and young adults. Camp participants not only receive greatly needed encouragement through the helpful practical curriculum that’s presented by caring team leaders, but they are also invited to embrace the “Good News” of the Gospel.

Project Fund: Equipping the Saints

Country Information

Population
19,245,793 (July 2021 est.)

Ethnicity (%)
Kazakh (Qazaq) (68), Russian (19.3), Uzbek (3.2), Ukrainian (1.5), Uighur (1.5), Tatar (1.1), German (1), Other (4.4)

Religion (%)
Muslim (70.2), Christian (26.2), Buddhist (0.1), Other (0.2), Atheist (2.8), Unspecified (0.5)

Leader
President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev (2019)

Government type
Presidential republic

Legal system the theory and practice of the Russian Federation
Civil law system influenced by Roman-Germanic law and b

Source: CIA World Factbook

Pray for Kazakhstan

Pray that authorities will cease their harassment of unregistered church communities. Until then, pray believers will effectively minister the gospel despite opposition.

Pray for endurance for those believers facing these challenges.

Pray for the adage “To be a Kazakh is to be a Muslim” to be broken; pray for freedom from historic spiritual bondages and prejudices.

end

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