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Uzbekistan

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A minaret in Uzbekistan, which is 93% Muslim
Nikolaus88 / CC BY-SA 3.0

All Christian activity is illegal for members of unregistered churches in Uzbekistan, and the official reprisals inflicted on them can be shattering. Sardorbek Nurmetov, who attends an unregistered church, was brutally beaten following his arrest in June 2013. A police officer beat him about the head and chest and kicked his legs. Christian literature and other materials were seized.

Officially a secular state, Uzbekistan has long been recognised as one of the most repressive regimes in Central Asia with respect to religious freedom, with the number of incidents against Christians increasing in recent years and extremely harsh religion laws severely limiting Christian activities. Churches are required to register with the authorities, but the stringent requirements are impossible for some to meet, and others are turned down for petty reasons such as minor grammatical errors or problems in certifying addresses. Children are discouraged from practising the Christian faith, and in 2013 the government raided a Christian children’s camp.

Christians from unregistered churches are vulnerable to police raids on their meetings and homes as well as to harassment and surveillance. During raids, threats and physical violence are common; arrest and detention can follow. Attending services, teaching the Bible to adults or children and training Christian leaders can result in fines of up to 200 to 300 times the monthly minimum wage for repeated violations. Even registered churches may be targeted. All evangelism is illegal, and Christians accused of illegally storing, importing or distributing Christian literature are subject to heavy fines. In the autonomous region of Karakalpakstan, where persecution is especially severe, it is even illegal to own a Bible. Members of churches that are considered “non-traditional” may be criticised in the media or suffer discrimination.

Uzbekistan has a strong Islamic heritage, as 80% of its population are Uzbek, a traditionally Sunni Muslim Turkic tribe, and 93% are nominally Muslim. Christianity in the area was almost entirely eradicated in 1300 AD under the Turkic military leader Tamerlane, who was renowned for his hatred of Christians and who is still celebrated as a hero in Uzbekistan. This legacy is very noticeable in the way Christian converts from Islam are often ostracised from their families and communities or threatened and beaten to force them to return to Islam. Churches with many Muslim-background believers frequently face harassment from the authorities as well as from local communities.

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    • “It is not typical for a man to show or talk about his weaknesses and admit them. These days the fear and pressure from the authorities and the Muslim world reveal the condition of my heart.” A Christian leader in Central Asia shared frankly in a letter the way in which the constant pressure he faced was wearing him down. He wrote how, having finally recognised his fears and defeats, he had then received encouragement from the Lord through the words of 2 Corinthians 1:1-10. Pray for our brother “M.T.” and the countless other Christians around the world living with ongoing opposition that the Father of compassion and God of all comfort will draw close and comfort them in all their troubles. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed 24 hours ago

    • Thank the Lord that, with the help of Barnabas Aid, two house churches in a strict Central Asian country were able to purchase coal-powered generators. Winters there are harsh, and the power supply can Barnabas is helping 30,000 displaced Iraqi Christians be erratic. This particular congregation used to meet in a church building, but in 2009 their permit to assemble was revoked and seven of their members were questioned at the police station. Since then the church has had to meet in members’ homes. Pray that the Lord will continue to bless their ministry and that the generators will allow the church to continue to expand despite opposition from the government. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Sat, Nov 2014 00:00

    • An Uzbek Christian who had converted from Islam died earlier this year and was buried. The local Muslim leaders banned any Muslim from attending the man’s funeral. But one of his work colleagues, a radical Muslim who had been struck by the Christian’s words and way of life, attended the funeral anyway, ignoring all the threats and warnings. She was puzzled by such a hostile reaction to a man she knew to be “God-fearing”. At the funeral she heard the Gospel and decided to give her life to Christ. Pray for “F.” as she is now being disciple and growing in her new faith, that she will be strong in the face of opposition from the Muslim community. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Fri, Nov 2014 00:00

    • Pray for hundreds of Christian, Yazidi and Turkmen women held in Badush Prison in Mosul, Iraq by ISIS militants. The women are reported to be raped daily unless they agree to convert to ISIS’s brand of Sunni Islam. The UN estimates that there have been roughly 1,500 Iraqi women and children from the Christian and Yazidi communities abducted by ISIS and then forced into sexual slavery. Ask our Heavenly Father to have mercy on each one of these women and children and to deliver them from evil. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Thu, Nov 2014 00:00

    • Give thanks to the Lord that, through the generosity of Barnabas Aid supporters, over 30,000 displaced Christians in northern Iraq are being assisted through four local partner organisations on the ground. By funding the distribution of food, blankets, hygiene items and other basic needs, Barnabas has enabled them to survive their first months of displacement. But their needs will be greater now, as the Iraqi winter has set in. Pray that God will provide. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Wed, Nov 2014 00:00

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