An Uzbek pastor and father-of-four, Latif, was arrested on Saturday12th March after police went to the homes of six Christian families, including the pastor’s, in the Fergana Valley in eastern Uzbekistan. The police were searching for Christian literature and resources as they had been informed that a large quantity of Jesus Film DVDs and Christian literature had been brought to the region.
According to a Barnabus Fund contact, around 15 people came to the pastor’s home in the early morning. The contact went immediately to the pastor’s house after he received a phone call telling him about the raid. “When I arrived to their home … they asked my documents and passports,” he wrote, “then I also asked their documents and permission to search the house. They have already started searching the house. During this process children were frightened and wife got unwell.”
The police then ordered pastor Latif to go to the police station. The contact accompanied the pastor there with the intention of making a declaration at the prosecutor’s office regarding the illegal behaviour of the police. But just as the men were about to enter the door, police dragged pastor Latif away and detained him.
They also referred the contact on to the road traffic police and falsely accused him of misconduct. The police then took his documents, searched his car and confiscated it. He is due to appear in court in a few days’ time to face trial for the false charge.
When pastor Latif’s wife and family went to the police station to bring him warm clothes and food, they were informed that he was not there. For five days following his arrest they were kept in the dark about his whereabouts.
On 17th March, Latif’s wife was notified by the district police that Latif had been sentenced to 15 days in prison for not submitting to authorities.
All evangelism is illegal in Uzbekistan, and Christians accused of storing, importing or distributing Christian literature face heavy fines along with the Christian literature being confiscated or destroyed.
- Pray for Pastor Latif,and other Christians in Uzbekistan who are in prison because of their faith. Pray for protection over them and their families, for comfort in prison and for practical provision for their families.
- Pray for the contact of Barnabus Fund as he faces hefty fines if found guilty of misconduct. Pray for the charges to be thrown out.
- Pray for the Uzbek Church as it struggles under a very repressive regime. Pray for protection for Christians, for the ability to access teaching and training resources, and for the church to be united and continue to grow.
- Pray for the Uzbek government to soften its stance towards Christians, and to allow freedom of worship for all.
Hebrews 13 vs 3: “Remember those who are in prison, as though you were in prison with them; those who are being tortured, as though you yourselves were being tortured.”