Challenge is a word that seems to equate with being a Christian in Uzbekistan. Lately the government has been fining Christians around $700, that’s about two month’s wages, if they’re found to possess a Bible.
Things are even worse for believers who live in the Karakalpak region, south of the Aral Sea.
Bible Society Translation Consultant, Dr Marijke de Lang, who is overseeing the translation of the Old Testament, thinks it’s one of the most challenging places in the world to live.
The region is deep in the throes of a major environmental disaster, caused by the death of the inland salt water lake, the Aral Sea, due to intensive over-irrigation. It’s a Soviet legacy, but one that has continued to the present day.
The people are suffering from major economic and health problems due to the loss of a once thriving fishing industry and high amounts of wind-borne salt, which is causing throat cancer and other diseases.
But out of this disaster flickers of hope are appearing, through faith.
“Many people here are turning to Christ,” says Dr de Lang.
She’s keen to see the books of the Old Testament that have been translated so far – Ruth, Esther, Jonah and Genesis – published as booklets. These will be distributed to Karakalpaks who live in neighbouring countries.
This article is from The Word at Work – Spring 2010.
Seventy year old Jin can’t stop smiling or singing. She’s walked for three hours in sub-zero temperatures to get to church.
The reason? Today, free Bibles are being given out to the congregation. And she’s got one.