Thursday, July 24, 2008

Kazakhstan

Most of you know that I traveled to Kazakhstan back in April for 2 weeks in order to help train church leaders who are working to start church-planting movements in Central Asian countries. It was an invigorating time, and I cam back re-focused on what God has called us to do in Round Rock and Greater Austin. As works with missions, you always return learning more than you ever teach. You can read my thoughts on the trip here. After returning from our trip, our church decided to get financially involved in the mission work in Central Asia (with East-West Ministries), and since then, I have been keeping my eyes open on news from that part of the world.

You can imagine that I was surprised when the WSJ cover page two days ago ran a full article revealing new details of corruption at the highest levels of the Kazakh government. Everyone has known that Kazakhstan's president (who has been in charge since the fall of the Soviet Empire) has been making tons of money on the backs of the Kazakh people over the years. He is known as one of the country's wealthiest people because he owns so much of the natural resource wealth in the country, but also because he owns a bank that lends his money to people in the country & makes a profit on this interest he charges. The WSJ article is giving first-hand reports for the first time of how deep the corruption goes.

Yesterday, the WSJ ran a follow-up article to this one talking about the response of the US government to the revelations from their first article. Interestingly enough, Kazakhstan is supposed to lead the OSCE (a group in Europe responsible to encourage human rights) starting in 2010. Hard to believe it is possible that a country with so much corruption and oppression of the poor could be lecturing other European countries about human rights violations.

Please pray for God to change the hearts of the leaders in Kazakhstan and to strengthen the believers who are boldly following Christ in tough circumstances.


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