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Why + how to pray for Uyghurs?

Why pray for the Uyghurs? Intense repression and persecution

You will:

Learn how to best pray for the Uyghurs – a people desperate for a homeland, and facing intense persecution

Be moved to pray for the small minority of Uyghur Christians, some moved to so called ‘re-education camps’, others imprisoned and cut off

Be challenged to pray for what is unthinkable naturally speaking

Last updated;  19 July 2021

Why pray for the Uyghurs? Since early 2017 their plight has been the worst it’s been since the 1930’s.

While the Uyghurs share many language and cultural similarities with other Central Asian peoples, one of the main differences is that the majority of them are still under the control of communism. The Uyghurs face severe repression, with no sign of this changing in the near future.

At least 10 million Uyghurs live in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, the largest and most north-western province of the People’s Republic of China.

Smaller numbers also live in surrounding Central Asian nations and immigrant populations exist in some European and Western countries.

Although once nomadic herdsmen from the Mongolian grasslands, the Uyghurs in Xinjiang are now settled in numerous oasis villages and towns as well as in a few major cities.

Map of Xinjiang, North West China - Christian mission

Without an understanding of God’s grace, reconciliation seems to be unthinkable.

While things have never been easy for Uyghur Christians in Xinjiang who may number a few thousand, the situation since early 2017 has been the worst it’s been since the 1930’s. Unfortunately, intense conflict between Han Chinese and Uyghurs goes back centuries and, for community leaders on both sides without an understanding of God’s grace, reconciliation seems to the be unthinkable.

Why pray for Uyghurs?
An extremely hard line, high tech security clampdown

In response to several Uyghur terrorist attacks on Han in recent years, China has chosen an extremely hard line, high tech security clampdown – surveillance cameras everywhere, police stations every few blocks in the cities, and frequent checks of mobile phones.

Credible estimates of the number of Uyghurs currently in re-education camps suggest 1-2 million, among which there are perhaps dozens of Christians.  Sadly Uyghur believers have been imprisoned, unable to have any visits or form of contact from family and friends.

Uyghur believers elsewhere

Praise God and pray for the Uyghur Church in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan (perhaps 300 active believers). It enjoys much more freedom and is now moving into its second generation of believers.

Pray for Uyghurs
An elderly Uyghur lady - Pray for the Uyghurs

What was the original religion of the Uyghurs?

The Uyghurs were originally animists, worshipping nature spirits and consulting shamans or witch doctors. In the 10th century the Uyghurs started turning to Islam, which is now seen as integral to their ethnic identity. Most however practice “folk Islam”, including belief in the “Jinn” (evil spirits), “evil eye” (curses), and amulets etc.

The Chinese government still imposes religious restrictions on the Uyghurs, for example authorities regard any study of the Quran done outside government-approved venues to be “illegal activity.”

Uyghur herdsman in Xinjiang province China - Pray for the Uyghurs

Can you tell me anything else about this people group, as I pray for the Uyghurs?

The Uyghurs are a proud and independent people with a rich and colourful heritage of poetry, music and dance. They are also very hospitable with strong ties to family, community and land.

Their intrigue can be ascribed in part to a unique blend of cultural complexity, due to centuries of crossroads contact with other cultures on the Silk Road, and partly from their rural simplicity, caused by their geographical isolation.

Archaeological evidence / records show a high level of civilization attained by the Uyghurs that spans from the Arts to the Sciences and dates back to the 8th century. Today they are still skilled craftsmen, artisans, traders, and farmers. Major crops include cotton, corn, wheat and sunflowers, and a large range of fruits.

The Uyghurs speak a Turkic language and use an Arabic based script in China and a Cyrillic script in the former Soviet Union.

Pray for the Uyghurs at a glance:
  • Population: 8 million
  • Area: 640,000 sq miles
  • Capital: Ürümqi  (Xinjiang province, NW China)
  • Languages: Uyghur, Chinese
  • Currency: Chinese Renminbi
  • Religion: Muslim
  • Believers: 2000-3000 Uyghurs in Xinjiang
Jujube red dates xinjiang NW china - Pray for the Uyghurs
Flag of the Uyghur Xinjiang independence movement - Pray for the Uyghurs

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How can I best pray for the Uyghurs?

Praise and Prayer pointers

BELIEVERS

Thank God for the Uyghur believers. Pray earnestly for them, as they are in a very small minority, and face many restrictions and repression

HOME IN CHRIST

As the Uyghur people desperately yearn for a homeland, do pray for the Uyghurs that they will find their true home, belonging and stability in Christ

LOVE AND HUMILITY

Please pray also for unity between Uyghur and Chinese Christians and that Chinese believers would reach out in God’s love and humility to the Uyghurs.

THE UNTHINKABLE

Reconciliation between the Han Chinese and the Uyghurs after centuries of conflict seems unthinkable to us – be encouraged to pray to our Heavenly Father for whom nothing is impossible, and as one who delights to do more than we can ask or imagine

STRONG LEADERS

Please pray for God to raise up strong leaders among the emerging Uyghur church

GOVERNMENTS

Pray for those in power wherever Uyghurs find themselves – they are a minority wherever they are. Pray that national governments would act justly and be sympathetic towards all minorities within their borders.

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