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Photo: Flickr / bloomsberries

On January 20th, Natalya Gaiyer had her home raided and several hundred Christian books confiscated by secret police working for the National Security Service (NSS) and Anti-Terrorism Department. Natalya, who lives in Tashkent and is a member of an officially registered Baptist church, was also ordered to pay a fine equal to about $130, at least three months' salary in Uzbekistan, for possessing the books.

Close surveillance of all religious communities by the NSS secret police is a standard part of the country's mechanism of repression. A week after the raid, on January 27th, a new censorship decree was established, stating that books and other materials encouraging individuals to change or "distort" their beliefs are now banned. As well, the decree imposes controls on the production, distribution and import of religious materials. With this new decree, authorities now have a "legal" basis for their strict restrictions.

Let us pray for this dear faithful Christian, asking God to provide for her material and spiritual needs at this time. May fellow believers from Natalya's church stand with her and bring much needed encouragement. Despite the increased restrictions, pray that the Christians of Uzbekistan will be resolute in their desire to share the "Good News" with their neighbours. Ask God to work in the lives of the country's authorities, so that they may respect religious freedom for all.

For more on the trials Christians face in Uzbekistan, go to the Uzbekistan Country Report.