A pastor and his wife living in a religiously restricted country in Central Asia are faced with a difficult decision as their 6-year-old son's zeal for Christ presents a danger to both the secret church and seminars they conduct.
According to a report from persecution watchdog Open Doors USA, a fieldworker and his wife associated with the organization recently talked to the wife of a local house pastor in Central Asia.
The woman revealed that she and her husband have a 6-year-old son who she described as "joyful with a passion to sing, loudly" about his love for Christ. The little boy also shares Christ with everyone he meets; his mother revealed: "He recently asked me if his friend is going to heaven if he dies and I said, 'If he doesn't know Christ, then probably not,'" she recalled. Her son then said, "Then I have to tell him urgently about Jesus!"
While most parents would love their child to behave in this manner, the behavior is dangerous in Central Asia and could threaten the safety of their church and secret seminars.
However, the mother revealed she does not want to dampen her son's passion for sharing the Gospel with others, and asked for advice and prayers from the Body of Christ worldwide.
"Pray God will give the mother wisdom in this situation. Pray God leads this child and family to be proud of the Gospel, but to share it responsibly in their country," notes the report.
The persecution of Christians runs rampant in some former Soviet states; in fact, Open Doors International listed Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, and Kazakhstan on its 2016 World Watch List of the 50 places where it is most dangerous to be a Christian.
Ranked 15th on the list, Uzbekistan is the most persecuting country in Central Asia, and in the Republic of Azerbaijan, (34th on the list) Protestants are considered "extremists." The country also has many "prisoners of conscience" who are Christian, Muslim, or other religions.
Wade Kusack, director for the religious freedom department of Mission Eurasia, told World Magazine that "Islamic intolerance of Christianity and the way many people in these countries view being Muslim as part of their cultural and ethnic identities also contribute to the persecution of Christians in Central Asia."
Kusack said the people often view Muslim converts to Christianity as traitors and perceive missionaries as a "threat to the national identity."
Despite the challenges, missionaries with ministries in Central Asian countries have started hundreds of churches over the past three decades, according to Christian Aid Mission.
"If anything, opposition to Christianity, particularly evangelicals, has only spurred greater unity and commitment among believers in the region," notes CAM.
"Overcoming cultural misconceptions is an uphill battle, but ministry leaders are encouraged by a new generation of believers who sense the urgency to take the gospel to their own people while they can."