Report on Steve Bryant’s visit to Central Asia

Adrian,

Steve’s most recent visit was to two very different countries in Central Asia, both blessed with spectacular mountain scenery. After some difficulties with travel on past visits to this region, everything went very smoothly with all flights on time and travel to and from the airports and between cities working to plan.

The challenges faced by all of our workers there are renewing and keeping visas to allow them to stay, rising prosperity making many people more materialistic and less open to talk about spiritual issues, and suspicion of anything that isn’t Islam or the Russian Orthodox Church.

For our families there is the additional challenge of the children’s education. Away from the main cities with their international schools, the only realistic options are home-based education or the Russian-language schools with a strong emphasis on rote learning and heavy use of public shaming as a discipline method; shaming that extends to the parents of under-performing children

There were several seminars with both parents and older children on internet safety and positive internet use. In one town he taught a series on returning to the passport country to a group of senior children who will all be facing that experience soon to study at college or university. For almost all children growing up in another culture this “return” is one of the biggest challenges they face as it is much more like moving to a foreign country. He led other sessions during an education conference on living in restrictive societies, and including local Central Asian studies in the curriculum. Added to that were school visits and many discussions with parents and older students about their higher education study plans.

Many thanks to those who prayed while he was away.