Voice of the Martyrs, country to pray for this week: Azerbaijan

Oil-rich Azerbaijan has undergone a face-lift in recent years, funded by vast oil and gas reserves. Corruption is widespread in this former Soviet republic, and the government is authoritarian. The majority of the population lives in poverty, and most people in Azerbaijan’s towns and villages have never heard the gospel. Twenty-five out of 40 people groups are considered unreached by the gospel.

Category: Restricted Nation
Religion: Muslim 87.6%, Christian 2.7%
Ideology: Islam/Communism
Head of State: President Ilham Aliyev

Though most practice Shiite Islam, the government is secular. The government maintains tight control over its citizens with a Soviet-style KGB police force. Government censorship of religious literature was tightened under a 2009 law. All religious literature produced, sold or imported in the country requires official permission. The government enacted further registration laws in 2010. Harsh laws restrict Christians and other religious groups that teach children, produce literature, work with foreigners for religious purposes and develop property for worship purposes. In June 2011, a judge warned a Baptist pastor not to meet with his church again without government permission. The church was raided by police, and a large quantity of Christian literature was confiscated.

Daily Prayer Requests:
January 15th:  Penalties for violating religion laws have increased dramatically.
January 16th:  Pray for Christians in Kusar and other Christians who continue to meet despite persecution.
January 17th:  Pray for Christians who are persecuted by both the police and their Muslim families.
January 18th:  Pray for efforts to distribute Christian literature, which faces tight restrictions.
January 19th:  Pray that the widespread corruption will turn to the righteousness of Christ.
January 20th:  Church registration is difficult to obtain.  Pray that Christians will devise creative ways to meet.
January 21st:  Pray for President Ilham Aliyev.