Text source: Bethany World Prayer Center / GAAPNet
Introduction / History The Uzbeks are a Turkic people group located primarily in Central Asia. There are large Uzbek communities in Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan, as well as small communities in many other nations, including the United States.
What are their lives like? Traditionally, most Uzbeks were semi-nomadic shepherds; however, today, most of those living in Central Asia either farm or live and work in larger towns and cities. Among those who farm, the principal crop is cotton. Fruits, vegetables, and grains are also grown.
Their common staple food is rice and "osh" is the national dish cooked with rice. Pasta is also a common food item. It was probably brought to Central Asia hundreds of years ago by Italian or Chinese traders who traveled along the Silk Road. Two favorite pasta dishes are ash (a noodle dish sometimes mixed with yogurt) and ashak (an Uzbek-style ravioli).
The traditional dress of the Uzbeks is very distinctive. But today, most wear Western style clothing, especially those who live in large, previously Soviet cities.
The Uzbek mountain men love to play buzkashi, a wild polo-like game with two teams on horseback. The game, which uses the headless carcass of a goat or calf as the "ball," can be very violent and go on for two or three days. The object of the game is to pick up the "ball" and carry it to a goal that may be as far as two miles away. The other team attempts to stop whoever has the animal with any means necessary, even using whips to attack him. Another popular past-time is to hunt wild birds with falcons.
What are their beliefs? Most Uzbeks are Sunni Muslims of the Hanafite branch. Like other Muslims, the Uzbeks believe that there is one God, Allah, whose will was revealed through the prophet Mohammed and then recorded in the Koran.
The Uzbeks are not generally Orthodox Muslims. Many traditional beliefs have been mingled with their Islamic practices. Many of the younger generation are either atheists or non-religious.
What are their needs? Most Uzbeks who have access to the Gospel live in the cities. It is likely that the majority of the rural villages have had no Gospel witness.
Today, Islamic fundamentalists living in the former Soviet regions have begun calling for the strict application of Islamic law, as is practiced in Afghanistan. Now is the time to preach the Gospel to the Uzbeks of this region. There is an unprecedented opportunity to reach their communities with the message of the Cross. However, much intercession is needed to prevent this door from closing.
Prayer Points Pray that Christian Uzbek leaders would be unified in their evangelistic activities.
Pray that new Uzbek Christians would understand God's Word quickly and commit themselves to a local fellowship where they will find strength.
Pray that the Holy Spirit will soften the hearts of Uzbek Muslims towards Christians.
Ask God to grant wisdom and favor to missions agencies focusing on the Uzbeks.
Ask the Lord to send additional long term laborers to live among the Uzbeks and share the love of Christ with them.
Pray that Christians in other countries to start reaching out to their Uzbek neighbors and they would be receptive for Christ's love.
Pray for effectiveness of the Jesus film and Christian radio broadcasts that are being aired among the Uzbeks.
Pray for God to raise up strong local churches in all these countries among the Uzbeks.