Trans Eurasia travel

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Christianity first came to the central Asian region with Nestorians travelling the Silk Road in the 7th and 8th centuries and traces of Nestorian churches have been found in the Chui valley. It is thought that early Armenian Christian communities may have existed on the shores of Lake Issyk-Kul and there is even a popular and partly substantiated belief that St Matthew may have died at Svetly Mys on the lake's eastern shore.

The Russian Orthodox Church came to the region with Slavic colonists that moved here in the mid to late 19th century. By 1914, Bishkek had two Orthodox churches, one of which still exists today, and Karakol had its wooden church that was erected without the use of nails by the town's Orthodox community. As was the case with the region's Muslims, religious practice was discouraged during the Soviet period and churches were closed or, as in the case of Karakol's Holy Trinity Cathedral, which found a new function as a ballroom, put to more profane use.

Since independence there has been a renewed church attendance by the country's dwindling Slavic community. In addition there have been a number of missionary and evangelical projects at work in the country, which includes Baptists, Seventh Day Adventists (who have six churches in Bishkek), Korean Presbyterians and Jehovah's Witnesses, who have had some success in converting small numbers of nominally Muslim Kyrgyz to their cause.

Bishkek has a small Catholic diocese that was officially registered in 1969, and a small church, which is attended mostly by ethnic Poles and Germans. Most of Kyrgyzstan's remaining ethnic Germans are, however, Lutheran Protestants and have their own modest churches in the villages in the Chui valley. A further example of the sort of religious syncretism that is unabashedly practised in Kyrgyzstan is an ethnic Kyrgyz Baptist community in Naryn Oblast where Christian worship takes place using adapted Muslim modes of prayer.