From Barnabas Fund:
TURKMENISTAN - PRAISE GOD, PASTOR RELEASED
Pastor Ilmurad Nurliev (46) has been unexpectedly set free from a labour camp in Turkmenistan. He was released along with around 230 other detainees in a presidentially decreed amnesty to mark Flag Day on 19 February.
Pastor Nurliev was arrested in August 2010 and was given a four-year sentence in October 2010 on charges of swindling. His congregation insisted that these charges were fabricated to punish him for leading the unregistered church. Barnabas Fund sent financial support to buy food, clothes and medicine for the pastor, who is diabetic, and help with legal costs when he was imprisoned. His wife Maya said, “His release was so unexpected… It is such a joy I can’t tell you.” However, Pastor Nurliev must still report to the police every Saturday evening.
Despite this good news, an elderly Christian was detained on 3 February by a religious affairs official and questioned for six hours by police after he tried to print copies of a small book of his Christian poetry. Begjan Shirmedov (77) was forced to write a statement and banned from travelling outside his home region of Dashoguz in northern Turkmenistan while the case is investigated.
Begjan has been writing Christian poetry in Turkmen for some years. He wanted to have some of his work printed so that he could give copies away. Turkmenistan imposes strict censorship on religious literature and, knowing this, Begjan told the staff in the printing shop that the poetry was religious. They insisted that it would not be a problem to print it.
- Give grateful thanks that Pastor Nurliev has been released and can return to his family and congregation. Pray that he will be left alone to worship and witness without fear of harassment.
- Pray for Begjan and other Christians in Turkmenistan as they face the hostility of the authorities because of their faith. Ask that the Lord will sustain His people and that they will continue to grow in faith.