Uzbekistan calm now, but Christians are concerned

By May 17, 2005

Uzbekistan (MNN) — There is relative calm in Uzbekistan today. But, it was only after a bloody weekend of rioting, which was put down by military force. According to reports hundreds died when the military opened fire on the crowd of protesters.

Yesterday, U-S Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice called for political reform. The goal is to make the government more open, allowing opposition.

Bible Mission International is working in Uzbekistan. BMI’s Malcolm Smith says, “The churches, at this point, are not being affected that we know of. We have tried to make contact with our folks there. And, they are not talking by telephone. The government appears to have clamped down fairly hard on security. The borders are being closed for walk through traffic.”

Evangelism is difficult in this former Soviet block nation. Smith says handing out Christian literature like tracts or other material is restricted. “It’s okay to have those in Russian, if you’re giving them to Russians. But, you can not give them to a Russian speaking Uzbek because they are by definition traditional Muslims.”

The laws are quite hard on those who violate these laws, says Smith. “As we’re proselytizing, we’re susceptible to being fined. (For) local believers there, that has great ramifications on their economic stability as possibly they could be terminated from their job, they could lose their cars their houses, whatever, and even being imprisoned.”

Prayer is vital for Bible Mission’s work there. “Our prayer is that the government would give us the access and the opportunities that we need to share hope.”

Funding is needed for their summer camp program, which is still scheduled. $25 can send a young person to camp for a week, allowing them to hear the Gospel. Click on the link above to get more information.

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