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Why + how to pray for Uzbekistan?

Why pray for Uzbekistan? Praise God for 10,000+ ethnic Uzbek Christians

You will:

Learn how to best pray for Uzbekistan – praising God for 10,000+ Uzbek believers. Also, how to answer those who are asking, is Uzbekistan opening up?

Be challenged as you read of the widespread suppression of all forms of religious devotion that the Uzbek Christians have faced for many years

Be encouraged to pray on as you learn that the Uzbeks now have a complete Bible in their own language, available as an app

Last updated;  9 July 2021

Why pray for Uzbekistan?  Many ethnic Uzbeks have found forgiveness and peace in Christ

Arid deserts and fertile valleys, majestic mountains and unending steppe, sky-scrapers and stone hovels, gold mines and cotton fields, gracious hospitality and xenophobic bureaucracy, ancient cultures and post-Soviet habits, mini-skirt and modest hijab, Mercedes and mules. Uzbekistan is a land of amazing contrasts and lies at the heart of Central Asia, double landlocked, about as far from the sea as it is possible to get.

In 1991, only a bare handful of ethnic Uzbeks were known to have any Christian faith. Ethnic Russians had lived in Uzbekistan since the 1860s, but largely kept themselves and their faith within their own community.

There were and are communities of Orthodox, Catholics, Baptists and Pentecostals throughout Uzbekistan, but up until 1991 ethnic Uzbeks were not to be found among them.

Today there are estimated to be 10,000 ethnic Uzbek believers. What a great work of God!  Praise be to His name.

Map of Uzbekistan - Christian mission

Why pray for Uzbekistan?
Widespread suppression of all forms of religious devotion

Official policies, quite contrary to the constitutional commitment to freedom of worship, have led to widespread suppression of all forms of religious devotion outside the officially sanctioned mosques and Orthodox Church.

Thousands of devout Muslims have been imprisoned and Christian believers have been harassed with fines, some pastors have been imprisoned, literature has been confiscated and destroyed, places of worship have been raided and assets seized.

There are no officially registered Christian churches for Uzbek believers, so Uzbek Christians meet in small groups, in homes, restaurants, forests, at picnics and worship quietly.

Fines are heavy for the unofficial pastors, some have been imprisoned, some put under house arrest, some have fled the country.

Pray for Uzbekistan
Uzbek young lady lighting candle in orthodox church - Pray for Uzbekistan

Is Uzbekistan opening up?

Since President Shavkat Mirziyoyev came to power in 2016, following the death of the former leader Islam Karimov, there have some signs of a desire to open up.  Especially to attract foreign investment and tourism.

Some Christian believers living and serving in Uzbekistan, as well as recent visitors to this nation have reported an opening up, and they say ‘a different feeling or atmosphere’ is tangible compared to just a few years back.

At the same time though, is a new draft Religion law which passed on its first reading in mid Sep 2020.  As Forum 18 reports “the regime invited only religious communities with state permission to exist to a meeting to discuss the draft Religion Law”.  Protestants , who were unable to attend, argue that the Law is not much different to existing legislation.  A mission worker who has been living in the region for many years fears that it could actually make religious freedoms even tighter than they are now.

So, is Uzbekistan actually opening up in terms of religious freedom?  The verdict seems to be out on that question for the time being.  As if often the case with Central Asia, things are unclear!  Please do pray on for Uzbekistan.

Uzbek clay pottery figures - Pray for Uzbekistan

I would love to pray for Uzbekistan!  What else can you tell me about this Central Asian country?

Over the centuries great empires have invaded, settled, colonised and eventually withdrawn from Central Asia. The countries, as they now stand, were drawn in the 1920s by Stalin, so within Uzbekistan there are many ethnic groups.

After the break-up of the Soviet Union and Uzbekistan’s independence over 25 years ago, businesses from Korea, India, Iran, Turkey and the Middle East began to invest in Uzbekistan, but they were strangled by red tape or nationalised.

Post-independence, the Government searched for political and economic stability. Meanwhile, the indigenous peoples started their search for a new identity; turning to fundamentalist Islam, to nationalism, the older ones yearned for the certainties of communism, the youth for the freedoms of western democracy.

Pray for Uzbekistan at a glance:
  • Population: 32 million
  • Area: 172,741 sq miles
  • Capital: Tashkent
  • Languages: Uzbek
  • Currency: Uzbek Som
  • Religion: Muslim (85%)
  • Believers: 10,000 (ethnic Uzbeks, 0.3%)
Samarkand in Uzbekistan - Pray for Uzbekistan
Flag of Uzbekistan - Pray for Uzbekistan

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How can I best pray for Uzbekistan?

Praise and Prayer pointers


Praise God for the 10,000+ ethnic Uzbek believers – who are faithful despite the suppression of religion


Praise God for the publication of the whole Bible in Uzbek, now available as an app.  Thank God for the team of workers who accomplished this, at considerable risk to themselves.


For the government of Uzbekistan that it would provide political stability, economic prosperity, and social justice


Pray for Uzbekistan – that freedoms may increase under the relatively new leadership (elected 2016) of president Shavkat Mirziyoyev – so believers can meet all together, as opposed to only in small groups


For the leaders of the Uzbek church to stay firmly devoted to Christ, full of wisdom to know how to answer their opponents, full of grace to preach the Word faithfully


Thank God for the few remaining Christian expatriate workers, and pray they will be able to encourage the church and its leaders to persevere

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