• Pray for safety, growth, and spiritual maturity for those in underground house churches.
• Pray for a miraculous explosion of religious freedom.
• Pray for believers to be bold in evangelism as foreign workers are expelled.
Uzbekistan, a landlocked nation in Central Asia, was once part of the Persian empire and was conquered by Alexander the Great in the 4th century B.C. Once a thoroughfare for the Silk Road, it was a strategic point of conquest for many invaders. As a result, this populous country is comprised of numerous ethnic groups. Today it is filled with rich architectural beauty evident in its mosques, palaces, and minarets.
The combined influence of more than one hundred years of Russian occupation followed by Soviet rule led to today’s system of government. While professing to be a constitutional republic, the prime minister and parliament have limited authority and the judicial branch is completely subordinate to the executive branch. President Islam Karimov, who ruled for 27 years, died in 2016 and was succeeded by the prime minister, Shavkat Mirziyoyev. Yet institutionalized corruption still exists at every level of government. Although Uzbeks boast a 99% literacy level, all media is government controlled, and free access to information is nonexistent. Once a gateway to goods on the Silk Road, this nation now acts as a transit point for drug activity, particularly Afghan narcotics going to Russia and Western Europe. Additionally, this nation has a reputation for human trafficking and does not meet the standards of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act.
Uzbekistan is in the top twenty most persecuted nations in the world. Approximately 84% claim Islam, while less than 1% are Christian. Of the sixty-one people groups, thirty-four remain unreached by the Gospel. Fear of the instability created by fundamentalism and terrorism has led to the limiting of religious practices in support of a moderate form of Islam. Yet fundamentalist sects and those who seek to establish Islamic law have still formed. All churches, regardless of denomination, must be registered with the government. There are approximately 25,000 Christians in dozens of unregistered churches facing persecution, arrest, and torture from targeted attacks by government-controlled media and police. Despite increasing scrutiny and harassment, the Church continues to grow, mainly in urban areas, where about one-third of Uzbeks reside.
Capital City: Tashkent
Government: Presidential republic; high authoritarian
Major People Groups: 80% Northern Uzbek; 5% Tajik (Tadzhik); 4% Kazakh; 2% Tatar; 2% Karakalpak (Black Hat)
Religion: Muslim 96%, Agnostic 2%, Christian 1%, Atheist 1%
Language: Uzbek, Tajik, Kazakh, Tatar, Karakalpak
GDP Per Capita: $7,000
Literacy Rate: 100%
POPULATION IN UNREACHED PEOPLE GROUPS: 96%
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