Tolkyn Yuzbayev came to faith in Christ at the age of 9 in his Uzbek village. His father passed away the following year, leaving his mother the responsibility of raising their 6 children alone. As Tolkyn’s mother struggled to support her family as a cleaner at a local hospital, Tolkyn and his siblings experienced a very difficult childhood. In 2003, the rest of Tolkyn’s family accepted Christ as their Savior, and the young believers began having church services in their house. Since that time, all of the members of his family have remained faithful believers. Today, Tolkyn is married and has two young children.
Tolkyn’s family first experienced persecution in August of 2004 when police officers raided their home during the service, and arrested 17 people during the service. All of them were taken to court, accused and charged fines. In 2010, the police raided their house again, discovering a wealth of Christian literature. Tolkyn and his mother Bibidona were fined $2,000. Over the next 2 years, they struggled to pay the huge fine a little at a time. Since then, their house has been under surveillance, necessitating the change of their meeting times to the late and early hours; most often between 10 pm to 3 am.
Last year, on Dec. 21, police raided their house searching for “illegal materials.” Though they could not find anything except one note with Scripture passages, they took Tolkyn, his mother and sister to the local police station for questioning. After a few hours, they released them with orders to return the next day. The next day, a police officer demanded that Tolkyn write an explanatory letter. Then, they locked Tolkyn in a prison cell. His mother and sister waited at the police station for him until evening, but finally had to return home without him.
That night the policemen began beating and torturing Tolkyn. They forced him to take off his clothes, took him outside and severely beat him, bashing his head against the wall several times. In addition to the physical abuse, they heaped moral abuse on him by cursing him and his family. After they took him inside, they forced him to write a false testimony about a local government representative-Minister Rakhim. They demanded that his written statement about Rakhim said that he was distributing materials with religious content and was participating in illegal activities. They also forced Tolkyn to say that he physically abused his wife in order to coerce her acceptance of Jesus Christ.
As a result of the violent assault, Tolkyn lost his vision in one eye and one of his ribs was broken. When he went to seek medical treatment, the hospital refused to accept him. Due to the difficulties, Tolkyn’s heart was full of despair. He tried to commit to suicide, but his mother stopped him.
Just recently, police officers visited their house again and took Tolkyn and his mother to the police station where a videographer from the local TV channel was ready to record Tolkyn. Collapsing under intense pressure and threats, he verbally admitted to the false accusations. Local believers are currently waiting to view this television program against Christians.
The Government of Uzbekistan has continued their aggressive media campaign against the local church, broadcasting programs portraying Christians as betrayers of their fathers’ faith and established national traditions, and cursing Christians as bad people. Recently, one of the local channels broadcasted a program in which a Mullah denounced Christians, stating “Christians have no share in our country, and they have to be kicked out by any means.” Such public speeches have historically signaled that a new wave of persecution is about to flow through the area.
Father, with heavy hearts, we lift up Tolkyn before Your presence. Heal his body, Father, and mend the torn places in his soul with a healing balm from Your Spirit who lives within him. We pray also for his family and fellow believers who have suffered as well, living in fear in the wake of the chaos perpetrated by the police. Keep them safe, fortify their faith, remove their fear, and strengthen them to stand strong, clothed with the full armor of Christ, as they face the insecurity of each new day. We pray, Father, that you would also grant local leaders wisdom and courage to confront these trials that have come before Your church. In the name of Jesus our refuge and strong tower, Amen.