BACKGROUND: Azerbaijan’s economy is dependent on oil and gas, but corruption and an authoritarian government have impeded economic growth in the former Soviet republic on the Caspian Sea. Poverty has been reduced in recent years, and the country’s infrastructure is gradually improving.
MAJOR RELIGION: Azerbaijan is predominantly Muslim, and most are Shiite Muslims.
PERSECUTOR: Families are the biggest persecutors of Christians. Azerbaijan has a shame/honor culture in which those who leave Islam are considered to have brought shame on the family. The government also pressures Christians with heavy fines.
WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A CHRISTIAN IN AZERBAIJAN: For many years now, churches have been denied the ability to register as a legal church. Secret police attend every church meeting, and raids on “illegal” church meetings are common. In 2015, the government published a list of banned religious books that included the Old Testament. Those caught with banned religious literature are fined.
ACCESS TO BIBLES: Bibles are difficult to obtain. Churches can purchase them, but they cannot have them printed in the country.
VOM WORK: VOM brings Bibles, including children’s Bibles, into the country and assists pastors and churches with legal matters.