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"People will be able to learn by the way Ruslan moves. He's going to be able to develop not only some interesting relationships, but also introduce his favorite relationship—Jesus Christ—to people."

Ruslan is currently touring the country with his record label, Kings Dream Entertainment. They are promoting a collaborative album they released in April, Dream Junkies, which received strong reviews from Wade-O Radio's Branden Murphy.

As the founder of Kings Dream, Ruslan is also helping to produce and promote his label mate Beleaf's upcoming album. Ruslan plans on releasing his second solo album later this year. Critics Aubrey McKay of Wade-O Radio and George Yelder of Chican's Choice have praised Ruslan's first album.

The positive reviews don't surprise Fonzworth Bentley, who said Ruslan is "a master of his craft and is a true student of the art—of all of it—from producing, to writing, to performance."

Raising Awareness

The Pew Research Center reports that religious hostilities in 2012 were the highest in six years, and hostility against Christians led worldwide in the number of incidents. "Our context of persecution is very different from the foreign context of persecution," Ruslan said.

"Here [in the United States] persecution is, 'I get teased for having my Bible. They call me the 'Bible thumper.' It's a social persecution. You may get written up at work for talking about Jesus, but that's really as deep as it's going to go."

"In other parts of the world, your life is literally on the line," said Ruslan. "Your life can be taken from you at any moment."

In Azerbaijan, the situation has improved somewhat, Ruslan said. Christian persecution declined enough last year to avoid an appearance on the World W atch List's "50 Hardest Countries to be a Christian."

However, recent discussions between Ruslan and his father about a return visit to Baku always end the same: The risk is too high. Ruslan predicted that if his father or brother tried to return, they would likely be detained or denied entry. Muslims make up 87 percent of Azerbaijan's population, while Christians compose just 2.7 percent.

Ruslan stressed the importance of Christians offering more than their weekly tithe to support persecuted Christians. "We can look for opportunities to help people, missionaries, and organizations in these regions that are attempting to do good, be generous with our finances and our time," he said.

Timothy C. Morgan is CT senior editor, global journalism. David Daniels is a journalist who covers contemporary culture and music.

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