Area: 447,400 sq km
Fertile, irrigated mountain valleys in the east, notably the Ferghana Valley. Desert and Aral Sea in the west.
Population: 27,794,296 Annual Growth: 1.10%
Official language: Uzbek Languages: 39 All languages
Largest Religion: Muslim
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Uzbek believers continue to increase despite great opposition. The prospect of retribution from three sides the government, local Muslim leaders and the community (family and neighbours) has not halted growth. There are now probably more than 10,000 Uzbek believers, where there were possibly none only a generation ago. But much prayer is still needed:
a) For the discipling and mentoring of new believers. No one knows how many isolated individuals and clusters exist, but there are far more than those affiliated with officially recognized churches. Many fall away when difficulties intensify; pray that Christians might be integrated quickly into home groups or fellowships where they can grow. Many others find their witness curtailed by fear; pray for boldness for them.
b) For local believers who are accused of being cultural/religious traitors and rice Christians. Pray for gentleness and humility as well as right motives for all those who seek to integrate into the churches.
c) For the distribution of believers. Most Uzbek Christians live in Tashkent and other cities, despite 63% of Uzbeks living in rural areas.
d) For indigenous leadership to be raised up. Bible training for this infant Church is urgently needed, as is spiritual maturity and godliness. Fast-growing churches need quality leaders even more urgently.
e) For cultural authenticity. Ask the Lord to raise up culturally appropriate Uzbek Christian literature, music, worship styles and fellowship structures. There are Uzbek ministry-training courses, led and taught completely by Uzbeks. These things are beginning to emerge, with significant fruit as a result.
Uzbekistans 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.
For an additional 7 Challenges for Prayer see Operation World book, CD-ROM, or DVD-ROM.
The Operation World book, CD-ROM, and DVD-ROM provide far more information and fuel for prayer for the people of Uzbekistan.