Uzbekistan (OM) — Uzbekistan is not an open country to Christianity. It is illegal to have Christian meetings in the Uzbek language, the Bible is restricted, and known Christians are monitored. This makes sharing about Jesus difficult, and as a result, many Uzbek people have not heard the Good News.
However, although the door for mission work is almost fully shut in Uzbekistan, millions of Uzbeks make their way to Russia to find work and send money back to their families. In Russia there is freedom to share the Gospel and distribute Bibles.
Operation Mobilization‘s church-planting ministry in Russia reaches out to Uzbeks in the city of Novosibirsk, and over the last four years they’ve seen dozens of migrant workers come to faith in Jesus.
One such man is *Alek. After coming to faith, Alek was discipled through OM Russia’s discipleship program.
Instead of helping in the church plant as expected, Alek and his family returned to Uzbekistan to renew their passports, and they were not allowed to return to Russia.
Alek lives in a small town, and through his and his wife’s witness, around 10 people have come to faith.
Recently *Tamara, who lives in Novosibirsk and is part of the church plant, visited Alek and the other believers to see how they were doing and to encourage them.
Unfortunately, Tamara did not find the group in a strong spiritual state. Lack of fellowship and encouragement had caused their faith to grow cold, and they were no longer meeting together as believers.
With the country’s bad economy and high unemployment, they didn’t have enough money to travel to meet with other believers in a nearby city. However, as soon as Tamara arrived, they were overjoyed, admitted their weakness, wept, and repented. They met every day and night until 3:00 in the morning for a week to receive encouragement and teaching from the Bible from Tamara.
One of the women, *Motier, left her newborn baby for the morning to fetch her grandmother from a neighboring village. The grandmother had heard about Tamara and wanted to find out more. The grandmother, 83, was sick and couldn’t walk, but that morning she felt better and was able to make the journey.
At the meeting, the grandmother told Tamara everything she knew about God, from a Muslim perspective. Tamara listened politely.
Concluding, the grandmother said, “I have told you everything I know; now it’s your turn to talk to me about God.”
Tamara replied, “You know much about God, but there is one thing that you do not know and that I would like to share with you.”
With that Tamara, starting with the account of Adam and Eve, shared the Gospel story. As the day wore on, some of the other women in the room got distracted and talked about other things, but the grandmother commanded them to listen to Tamara.
She told Tamara, “My head does not hurt when you talk about God and this man, Jesus. But when we talk on other topics, I feel discomfort.”
When Tamara got to the end of the story, the grandmother exclaimed, “How can I not accept such a Savior? I will repent and receive Him!”
She reached into her pocket for money to pay Tamara for her visit, as is the Muslim custom. The grandmother’s grandson, who had come to faith earlier, laughed and explained that Tamara was not here to receive, but to give.
Praise God for changing hearts in Uzbekistan. Pray that more in this country would come to know Him. Pray for OM Russia and the church-planting team as they minister to Uzbeks in Russia.