Monday, May 1
As Fred and I have spent time with the Bible Mission team we have also had the opportunity to meet and learn from several pastors about the church in Uzbekistan, south of Kazakhstan. They explained that at the fall of the Soviet Union twenty-five years ago there were virtually no Uzbek believers. And yet now throughout Central Asia there are thousands of believers in spite of persecution.
There are many small churches in Uzbekistan and the church is fiercely persecuted. For example, coming in and out of the country officials may check a person’s phone to see if he has the Bible on it or any other incriminating materials such as emails to other believers. Neighbors can report believers to the police. People are only allowed one Bible per home and if another is found it is confiscated and a fine levied with the possibility of prison. Two pastors had recently served fifteen days in prison.
One pastor explained that the main strategy for evangelism in Uzbekistan was personal evangelism. When he came to faith in Christ his life was completely different. Although some of his uncles persecuted him for his faith his immediate family saw the tremendous difference and knew that something had happened. The Lord then opened their hearts to receive Christ.
After coming to faith in Christ he had gone to a Bible school in Moldova as he wanted to learn the Bible and theology. He is now acting in a pastoral capacity over many small home churches. It is difficult for more than ten people to meet at a time so as not to attract attention. Occasions such as birthdays give them an opportunity to gather though at any moment police can come to the door and search for Bibles and other materials. However, he didn’t seem at all afraid and said that the Gospel of Jesus Christ was spreading.
To hear such accounts firsthand is tremendously humbling yet also tremendously inspiring that we should use the wonderful freedoms we have in the west to always display and proclaim our Lord Jesus Christ and never to compromise.