HEARTS RIPE FOR HARVEST: A QUICK STUDY OF TURKMENISTAN
A People in Need of Hope
If there is a nation of people on the earth today who need the hope of salvation, it is the people of Turkmenistan. In everything, from their history to their geography to their present government, Turkmens endure bleakness, repression and privation.
The Door of Hell
Eighty percent of Turkmenistan is covered by the Karakum (or Black Sand) Desert. This desert is one of the driest places in the world. Annual rainfall in some areas is less than half an inch and high temperatures range between 118 F and 125 F (48C – 51.7 C). One might assume this barren landscape would be of little value, but there beneath the desert is one of the world’s richest reserves of natural gas and significant oil deposits.
In the middle of the desert is a huge crater called the Door of Hell. An underground cavern collapsed in 1971 and geologists set it on fire to prevent the spread of methane gas. The crater still burns and while it has turned into a tourist destination, it is also a good metaphor for the whole country.
Window on the Sea
Unlike its neighbor to the north, poor land-locked Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan has access to the Caspian Sea all along its western border. In 2011, the Turkmen president opened up Avaza, a marble-clad seaside resort with eight luxurious hotels, but it has not fulfilled the president’s vision. UK’s Telegraph suggested it is the most ill-conceived resort ever built. The sea is cold year-round, the decor through out the city is kitschy and when asked why anyone would go there, a tour guide cited the sheer weirdness of the resort.
An “Eccentric and All-Controlling President”
The same Telegraph article that complained of the inconveniences of Avaza, also complained of Turkmenistan’s president, sometimes referred to as “The Protector.” The Telegraph is not alone in their criticism of the country’s leader. Humans Rights Watch said Turkmenistan “remains one of the world’s most repressive countries. The country is virtually closed to independent scrutiny, media and religious freedoms are subject to draconian restrictions, and human rights defenders and other activists face the constant threat of government reprisal.” Wikipedia goes on to say the president promotes a “personality cult” in which his family enjoys unlimited power and total control.
The history of Turkmenistan is a recital of tribes in conflict. The original inhabitants came from Mongolia and formed the basis of the modern Turkmen population. They spread the Turkmen/Turkish culture to places like Turkey, Azerbaijan, and Iran, but according to Wikipedia, throughout their dominance, the area saw a series of splits and confederations in the tribes which kept the area in upheaval and spread fear far and wide.
Because of this turmoil, and because Turkmen were known for their involvement in the slave trade, the people of Turkmenistan welcomed the Russians. However, the Russians destroyed the nomadic lifestyle, which had been a Turkmen tradition since their arrival from Mongolia, and turned them into farmers.
The vacuum left by the fragmentation of the USSR was filled by a powerful tyrant. He died in 2006, and by 2007, the current president and his personality cult took over. The oil and gas rich country should provide a comfortable lifestyle for everyone, but the only ones to benefit are the president and his family.
Hope for the Hopeless
The people of Turkmenistan, who live in some of the most rugged terrain on earth, have been robbed of their traditional lifestyle and suffer under a heartless tyrannical regime who controls every facet of their lives. It is with great joy that GHM reaches out to these hopeless people offering them the hope of Jesus Christ through the miracle of satellite broadcasting.
Help Reap the Harvest
You can partner with Global Heart Ministries to fulfill The Great Commission in this generation. Together we can bring the light and the truth of Jesus Christ right into the living rooms of every deceived child, every oppressed woman and every hurting home. This is our message. This is our call.
We invite you to join this vision as a volunteer, a prayer warrior, or a financial donor. Contact us today by phone or email. Let us know how you’d like to partner with us as we reach out to the Most Unreached regions of the world.