December 13 - Pray for: Uzbekistan

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Uzbekistan is the strategic key for all of Central Asia, and tensions remain high between the post-Soviet regime and the Islamist movements (most radical in the Fergana Valley). Much of the population is tired of poverty, corruption, and failure to make economic progress, and Islamists attract jobless young men. Economic prospects have improved recently, as both tourism and employment opportunities for women have improved. Pray for positive change that lasts, and leadership that governs for the sake of the people. Pray for the true peace only Jesus can give.


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Most Christians come from minority groups, and large numbers have returned to their ancestral homelands since independence. Evangelical Christianity, especially Pentecostals/charismatics, grows among those who remain. Russians and Koreans have some freedom to evangelize their own people, but the government punishes any who attempt to reach Uzbeks or other Muslim peoples. Tashkent is the Islamic capital of Central Asia, in numbers and influence. Pray for the Muslim peoples of Uzbekistan to hear - in a way they can understand and respond to - the good news of Jesus.

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Tashkent is the Islamic capital of Central Asia in terms of both numbers and influence. Islam is more a part of the Uzbek cultural identity than it is a faithfully practiced religion; folk/occult practices are deeply tied into the beliefs of mostly the rural Uzbeks. Since a burst of Islamic activity soon after independence, the government has reined in most Islamic missionaries and mosque-buildings and tightly controls and monitors all Islamic activity.

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Uzbekistan's government relentlessly persecutes the Church. Dynamic and evangelism-oriented churches, especially Uzbek churches, are particularly targeted. Uzbek Christian leaders have extensive files on them compiled by the 14 different government agencies that monitor religious activity. Persecution tactics include: public humiliation, property seizure, book and Bible-burning, expulsion of Christian students, dismissal of Christian employees, arrests (followed by beating and torture) under the flimsiest of pretexts and massive fines for first offences (up to 50 times the annual salary). The near impossibility of legally registering has birthed a mobile and fast-growing house church movement. A well-networked union of house churches helps to create stability and support amid the persecution. Pray for Christians who are under pressure to betray fellow believers to the authorities. Pray too for those persecuted and in prison, that God may give them strength and boldness.

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The unreached. Only a small fraction of the Muslim majority have ever had the opportunity to hear the gospel. Almost every Muslim people group is less than 0.1% Christian. Pray specifically for the:

  • Karakalpaks, who live south of the Aral Sea and are more Russified Sunni Muslims with strong Sufi influence. Nukus, the regional capital, is witnessing unprecedented church growth, despite persecution being most intense in this area. A few thousand have come into the Kingdom in recent years. Since the government shut every non-Orthodox church, almost all growth is through underground house churches. Uzbeks in the region are also coming to Christ. Pray for the Church here to stand fast and to keep growing. Praise God for the completion of the translation of the whole Bible into Karakalpak in 2023!
  • Tajiks comprise a majority in both Samarkand and Bukhara. There are few believers among them. Iranian-Median rather than Turkic, they are discriminated against by the government. Pray that their suffering might draw them to Christ.

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Content taken or adapted from Operation World, 7th Edition (2010) and Pray for the World (2015). Both books are published by InterVarsity Press. All rights reserved.