How many Christians are there in Uzbekistan?
There are only 347,000 Christians living in Uzbekistan, 1% of a population of 33.6 million.
What does persecution look like in Uzbekistan?
Though all Christians experience some level of persecution in Uzbekistan, Protestants are often the victims of the greatest pressure. Christians who are a part of these non-registered churches may be viewed as "extremists," and the government believes church members are spies trying to destroy the government. Therefore, Christians and their churches may be monitored, and unregistered churches may be the victims of police raids, arrests and fines.
Uzbekistan is largely Muslim, so any Christian who converted from Islam faces increased pressure from their family and community. Christians in these situations may be locked up, beaten or expelled from their communities. Many converts from Islam are forced to hide their faith.
Who is most vulnerable to persecution?
The level of persecution by government officials in Uzbekistan is the same all over the country, particularly on Christians who don't belong to a registered church, as well as Christians suspected of evangelizing. For Christians who converted from Islam, the pressure is strongest outside of urban areas, especially in the Fergana Valley in the east.
Adam attends a church that tried to register with the Uzbek government.
"The police asked us why we became Christians and demanded we renounce our faith. This had never happened before, even when we were fined in previous years. This happened because we asked for registration.”Adam
What has changed this year?
Persecution continued to be significant against Christians in Uzbekistan. A new criminal code was drafted in 2021, which continues to penalize the distribution of religious literature, meeting for worship and "talking about faith" without government permission.
The previous laws about religious activity were often criticized for being vague, but this update gives way to even greater persecution. Protestant churches continue to be targeted by authorities, and Christians who converted from Islam are still persecuted by both government and community.
What does Open Doors do to help Christians in Uzbekistan?
We can’t talk specifically about work in Uzbekistan for security reasons. Throughout Central Asia, Open Doors provides immediate aid to believers when they are placed in prison, excluded from families and communities, and deprived of livelihood and employment because of their faith in Christ. Open Doors also works in Central Asia by supporting biblical training and literature distribution.
How can you pray for Uzbekistan?
- Pray for Christians who are discriminated against in work or society because of their faith. Pray for Christians who lose their jobs, or who are required to keep their faith a secret. Pray especially for Christians who convert from Islam in Uzbekistan, that they would be protected and know the peace of God.
- Pray for the government of Uzbekistan, that they would allow more religious freedoms. Ask God to bring the knowledge of Him to the leaders of the country.
- Pray for Open Doors' ministry in Central Asia, that Christians across the region would feel encouraged and strengthened from the help and aid they receive.
Dear God, we pray for our brothers and sisters in Uzbekistan. We pray You would give them courage and strength to stand for You, even when it's so difficult. We ask for a softening of the hearts of the authorities, that all Christians might be able to worship freely. We pray especially for Your people in Uzbekistan who follow You after growing up Muslim; we ask You would be close to them, and be a place of refuge for them when they fear all is lost. We ask all these things in the name of Jesus, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.