As he made his way through the makeshift security checkpoint and passport control at the simple Ashgabat Airport – pastor Vladimir Tomachev remembered the words of his wife as he packed his bags the night before; "don't take your Bible, they will only confiscate it at the border when you return from the conference in L'viv, Ukraine."
He thought "how can I go to the conference without a Bible?" Upon the thought he went to the customs control point that of late had not been often visited by travelers due too the fact that too few had much to declare as they flew out of Turkmenistan.
"I would like a declaration form please" he asked the customs officer. The customs officer surprised replied "why, what do you have of such value that you've like to declare? Do you have a large sum of hard currency?
"No." said pastor Vladimir
"Do you have some rare antique or artifact you'd like to take out of Turkmenistan to Ukraine?"
"No." he said plainly. "I have something more valuable"
"Well what is it that you have that is of such value?" The officer asked inquisitively. At this point a small gathering of customs control officials gathered around this curious man who asked for a customs form.
"It's my Bible." He said as he pulled out a leather bound black Bible with bright gold edges.
"With eyes that grew bigger the officers asked "is that real gold on the pages?"
"No. The real gold is on the INSIDE"
P. Vladimir came from Ashgabat, Turkmenistan to our conference here in L'viv Ukraine and shared this testimony with us. There it is forbidden to pass out bibles and literature at evangelism. Church activities are closely watched and freedom to worship is strictly controlled by the government. Please pray for the two churches we have in Turkmenistan and the vision they have to reach the Beluji people – a widely unreached people group that only have the Gospel of Luke translated in their language.