Interview with Sharshanbek Baibosunov, UETS student in the Transformative Leadership master’s degree program, and 2013 graduate of the bachelor's degree program in Theology and Christian Ministry.
Could you introduce yourself first?
Currently, I am chairman of the Kyrgyz Alliance of Evangelical Churches, and deputy president of the Association of Evangelical Churches of Kyrgyzstan. Initially, evangelical churches in Kyrgyzstan were reluctant to unite, but new laws against Christians made them seek common ground to protect themselves. Today, they are trying to influence amendments to religious legislation.
Also, I serve on the board of the Bible Society of Kyrgyzstan, which promotes cooperation among churches irrespective of their denominational affiliation, and I’m a member of the board and faculty of the United Theological Seminary in Bishkek.
I am also a pastor of an evangelical church planted by my predecessors twenty years ago. There are up to 70 people who regularly attend the church on the weekly basis. We are taking advantage of the opportunities we have to minister to children and youth, orphans in particular. We cooperate with almost all Kyrgyz churches, advocating for the rights of believers living in Asia facing prosecution, and organizing national workshops and children camps.
How did you come to know God?
There was a period of time in my life when I felt like dying. The first place I went to when haunted by such thoughts was a mosque. However, my mind could not accept what I heard there. Since some of my relatives had believed in Christ earlier, I used to read Christian brochures from time to time, mostly out of curiosity. Then, one night I saw Christ in a dream saying ‘Come… I am waiting for you.’ So, I woke up in the middle of the night and told my wife that I wanted to repent. So, I went to church and prayed a prayer of repentance.
Do Kyrgyz Christians face any prosecutions today?
Despite the fact that Kyrgyzstan is a secular country, with the vast majority of the population being Muslim (around 86% are followers of Islam), there are still opportunities for ministry. No severe prosecutions have been initiated by the central government, but local authorities keep putting roadblocks in place by imposing various restrictions for evangelical Christians.