According to the 2010 census, there are 8.95 million Uyghur people six years old and older in Xinjiang. But 96% of them have only a primary school education. In contrast, Han Chinese who live in Xinjiang have one of the highest educational levels in all of China. Consequently, ethnic problems in Xinjiang are deep-rooted and complicated. We pray that Chinese believers will pray fervently for the salvation of missions of ethnic minorities in China and try to understand their grievances.
Most Uyghur parents in southern Xinjiang refuse to send their children to schools that use Mandarin to teach them because they fear that the children will lose their traditions and identity. The educational system in China very strictly teaches Communism and atheism. We pray that Christian families will intentionally deepen their teaching of the Bible at home and pray for the spiritual growth of their children.
Most of the children and youth in Uyghur loiter on the streets, and most are addicted to the internet and gambling. The few who do excel in their studies are sent by the government to top universities and later they will be employed by the government in managerial positions in their offices. The youth in Uyghur are envious of all things Western and fine but have a deep resentment for Chinese people. We pray that God will intervene and give wisdom to those who make the policies so His love can be shared with them in this generation or at least in two or three generations.
During the 1980's the Uyghur people changed their basic language to Arabic. There are Uyghur gospel tools such as radio broadcasts, the story of Jesus, and other audio evangelical tools. Although many Uyghur can speak and read Chinese, in South Xinjiang Mandarin is hardly used at all. We pray God will raise up Han believers who have passion and desire for these people to learn about God and will be willing to learn the culture, customs, and language of the Uyghur people.
Currently, there are only about 800 Christians (from nine million total population) who meet for worship.These believers, however do not have a fixed meeting place so it is difficult to shepherd them. Uyghur converts face suspicion, rejection, and persecution from their families, the community, and even arrest by Chinese police. We praise God for their boldness in faith and lift up their safety and spiritual growth to the Lord.
It is nearly impossible for outsiders (foreigners or Han Chinese) to share the gospel with the Uyghur people. Some Uyghur Christian workers have been imprisoned for their faith since they lack good platforms on which to share the gospel with their fellowmen. We pray for those who are trying to help Uyghurs through community projects or as English teachers and business people, that they will find good opportunities given by God to share the Good News and to strengthen those who are believers.
The greatest goal for parents in China is often to get their own child into college and not getting into college is considered a miserable failure and shame. Chinese parents will do nearly anything for the education of their children. For Christians, the intense pursuit of getting into college often means that the young people stop going to church or youth fellowship completely. Let us pray for continuing faith and church attendance for all of the young people who grew up in Christian homes in China.