The Uyghur People of Kazakhstan

In recent years, Christianity has begun to take root in the Islamic republic of Kazakhstan. The small pockets of believers lighting the country typically reside in urban areas, leaving those in rural regions without access to the gospel.

The Uyghurs, a people living in rural Kazakhstan, originated from Turkish nomads living in Siberia. Large numbers of Uyghurs also live in China. For centuries, they lived along the Silk Road, transporting Chinese goods to Europe.

Islam is the dominant religion of the Uyghurs. Most practice a mix of Islam and animism. Only a few hundred have converted to Christianity. As Muslims, they believe that Christians are their enemies.

Slavik Radchuk, Christian Aid field director for Central Asia, channels funds to New Life Mission (NLMK) in Kazakhstan. Started in 1991 by Ivan Krykov, NLMK has planted 130 churches, one of which was started in 1994 among the Uyghurs. Approximately 120 Uyghurs now attend.

The Bible has been translated into the Uyghur language; however, they have been slow to accept the gospel message. Most cling tightly to their form of folk Islam, and native missionaries find that their greatest challenge is replacing the Uyghurs' false beliefs with the Truth of God's Word.