Image: Central Asia church members made mouth masks to distribute and use this chance for outreach
In the face of the COVID19 virus, Christian converts in Muslim-majority Uzbekistan not only are living in isolation because of their faith, but now also face unemployment and discrimination.
Batyr’s* family are the only Christians in the remote mountainous area where they live. Because of their faith they are shunned by their relatives, neighbours and officials to the degree that Batyr, whose actual name cannot be mentioned because of security reasons, could not find a job anywhere near home. It forced him to look for work elsewhere so he could provide for his wife and four children, of whom one is disabled.
As the country went into lockdown to combat the spread of the caronavirus, their village was quarantined as well, and Batyr had to give up his job. When village authorities handed out groceries to the most needy villagers, Batyr’s family was bypassed because of their Christian faith.
A church in the nearest city heard of the family’s plight and was able to provide groceries and some financial support.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR OUTREACH
Christians in Uzbekistan have been under increasing pressure, but the pandemic is offering the Church opportunities for outreach it has not had before, from taking church services and the Gospel message online, to the distribution of food and protective face masks.
“It’s great to see how the Central Asian church is reaching out with hope and light during this COVID-19 crisis. The testimonies we hear show it is a resilient church that knows how to act during such a crisis,” an OD field worker said.
Many of the churches received Open Doors’ “Standing Strong Through the Storm” training, which helps to prepare believers for persecution, but the lessons it teaches about suffering are just as important in the face of the COVID-19 challenge, the field worker said.
Pray for Christian converts from a Muslim background in Uzbekistan as they find themselves in isolation with their persecutors:
- Pray for their financial situation
- Pray for the medical situation with COVID19 virus spreading
- Pray for the churches and Christians who try no support people in need
- Pray for God’s protection for Batyr and his family