The rise of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Caucasus

Varuzhan Poghosyan, right, and family.
In Armenia, the number of Jehovah’s Witnesses here hovers around 11,000; LDS claims more than 3,000 members (also known as Mormons). These may be small numbers, but they are significant in this country of 3 million.

Between 1999 and 2003, Jehovah's Witnesses lodged almost 800 complaints of religiously-motivated incidents of conflict, many violent.

In early May, a group of teenagers destroyed a cart of pamphlets Jehovah’s Witnesses were using to proselytize in Tbilisi’s city center, although, Tsimintia is pleased to report, the police charged and fined the culprits responsible.

Still, he estimates that there are about 20,000 baptized converts; another 20,000 or so attend meetings and worship: such figures, if accurate, would comprise nearly 1 percent of Georgia's population.

“It was the end of the communist regime,” Tsimintia says of his joining the Jehovah’s Witnesses. “All people were seeking God.” But Tsimintia, then enrolled in college, felt dissatisfied by the Georgian Orthodox Church, which stirred him emotionally, but could not provide him with the answers he sought. “Who is God? Who are we? Where do we come from?” It was through independent Bible study, Tsimintia says, that he came to the conclusion the Jehovah’s Witnesses had access to spiritual truth.
Once our ancestors were pagans. Then they found the truth and became Orthodox. Now we’re finding truth again. 
Tamaz Khutsishvili
Jehovah's Witness from Georgia

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