The Azerbaijanis are considered a ‘least-reached’ people group. Thirty years ago, there were hardly any Azeri believers. Now, conservative estimates range from 7,000 to 17,000 Azerbaijani believers worldwide. A growing number have recently come to faith in Christ. Many understand the unique role they have in reaching their own and other peoples. They play an important part in the work of God.
Idris grew up into a life of violence and crime in Azerbaijan. The night before he was about to commit a serious crime, Christ appeared to him in a dream, exposing his life and the consequences of his path. He informed the gang he had changed his mind; he even warned them not to commit the crime and why, but they thought he was crazy and went ahead without him anyway.
All of them were arrested.
Idris gave his life to the Lord, and over the years God has used him to help lead a group of small churches reaching his own people, as well as Azeris in Georgia, Iran and Russia.
God is at work among the Azerbaijani people and others through them.
The Alov (Flame) Network, which Idris helps to lead, has been modelling a new way of church planting. Many of the older established churches were formed on the model of a main leader and a church built to be as large as possible. However, smaller house-based churches can be more easily moved if needed, they have smaller overheads, and are more kinship-friendly and natural for Azerbaijanis. By this model they have seen their fellowships grow to over 60 in number in recent years. Through plurality of leadership, they have developed a system where younger leaders are welcomed to take part in the decision-making process.
Recent events have brought new challenges and diminished the free flow of people and ideas in the region. Nevertheless, we continue to see growth and maturation in Azerbaijan’s church. God is at work among the Azerbaijani people and others through them.
Pray for Azerbaijan:
- that God would embolden and empower Azerbaijani believers to reach others for Christ
- for growing unity among the few Azerbaijani churches, and for local believers to be strong in faith and patient in trials
- that believing mission workers who bring needed skills and professions to Azerbaijan would be given gospel opportunities.