85% of the population of Uzbekistan are Uzbeks, while the rest are Russians, Tajiks, Kazakhs and other smaller ethnic groups. Uzbekistan declares freedom of conscience but government and society are intolerant of any Uzbek who chooses Christ over Islam and any person deemed too religious is monitored carefully. The fall of the Soviet Union brought confusion as many returned to Islam, ‘the religion of their fathers.’ Christianity has been considered a ‘Russian’ religion in Uzbekistan, due to the presence of ROC and Protestant churches via imperial Russia. There are five Roman Catholic churches throughout Uzbekistan. The current Evangelical movement was seeded by Mennonites, the forced exile of Molokans, the preaching of the English philanthropist Granville Augustus William Waldegrave and by the perseverance of the Russian Baptists. Missionaries came to teach and work as doctors, and to teach business while South Koreans came as missionaries to “local” Koreans in the country. Whereas the number of ethnic Uzbek Christians was only about 100 in 1994, some estimates suggest 10,000 ethnic Uzbek Christians today. Still, Uzbek Christians face difficulties and ostracism in daily life. Nevertheless, the Uzbek Church is quite active in evangelism and the growth of the Church has been exponential.
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