The Republic of Kazakhstan is located in Central Asia and is the largest landlocked country (by land area) in the world. It shares borders with Russia to the north and west; China to the southeast; and Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan to the south. Kazakhstan’s vast terrain includes flatlands, steppe, taiga, rock canyons, hills, deltas, snow-capped mountains, and deserts. Kazakhstan was conquered by the Russian Empire in the nineteenth century, and then became part of the Soviet Union in 1936. It was the last of the Soviet republics to declare independence at the fall of the Union in 1991. Today, Kazakhstan is a unitary republic led by the country’s first and only president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, who initially came to power in 1989 as the head of the Communist Party of Kazakhstan. With a population of 17.7 million, Kazakhstan’s diversity is shown by its 76 people groups and 131 ethnicities, including Kazakh, Russian, Ukrainian, Uzbek, Tatar, Uyghur, and many others. The state language is Kazakh, but the Russian language also has official status.
The majority of the Christian population in Kazakhstan has always been European rather than native Kazakh. However, the number of Kazakh believers has grown tremendously since 1990. At that time, there were virtually no Kazakh Christians; but now, it is reported that there are well over 15,000. This growth is encouraging to say the least, but it has also captured the attention of both the authorities and the Muslims. Due to changes in the law, all of the Bible colleges and seminaries have been forced to shut down. Most churches have also been greatly affected by oppressive registration laws that make it difficult, sometimes even impossible, for many churches to legally register. Furthering this oppression, those that are denied legal registration, yet continue to function as churches, are often then punished and fined. Despite these barriers, the great diversity of Kazakhstan’s demographics and the expansion of the church there make it a key place for reaching the rest of Central Asia – an area that is vastly unreached and in desperate need of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Sources: Wikipedia and Operation World