Zane and Catherine Pratt
Zane and Catherine marched up to the tomb of a ruthless conqueror known for the eradication of Christianity in Central Asia and said, “We’re back.”
Timur the Great, known in the West as Tamerlane, portrayed himself as an heir of Genghis Khan. Aiming to restore Khan’s Mongol Empire with the same barbarity of his hero, Timur ruthlessly eradicated Christianity from the lands he conquered. But this wasn’t the end of Christianity in Central Asia. In the early 1990s, more than 550 years later, Zane and Catherine Pratt moved onto Timur’s turf, and they brought the ageless message of hope with them.
Zane and Catherine served among an unreached people group with one known Christian out of a total of 13 million people.
The Pratts and their IMB colleagues had the privilege of seeing the number of Christians in Central Asia grow exponentially. In 1992, when the Pratts first moved to the region, 340 million people lived in Central Asian countries, and only 4,000 were Christians. By 2018, more than 220,000 Central Asians were Christians.
“We are seeing in the face of persecution, in the face of extreme opposition, a hunger for the gospel that we have never seen before in my lifetime, and I think really in the history of the Islamic world,” Zane said.
The Pratts were aware that following Christ has its consequences, especially in countries known for their violent oppression of Christianity. Friends of the Pratts were threatened with death, kidnapping and physical violence for their decision to follow Christ. The friends spent time praying whether they should remain as a witness or leave and seek safety. Safety was not the family’s highest priority. The glory of Jesus was.
Before moving to Central Asia, Catherine also spent time in concentrated prayer, wrestling with the call to take the gospel to the nations and the desire to keep her family safe from a region known for its violence.
Both the Pratts and local Christians made the decision that they were dedicated to take the gospel, no matter the cost, to a long-neglected part of the world.
In 2014, Zane was appointed to serve as the IMB’s vice president for global training, where he leads the global strategies for healthy church planting, discipleship and theological training.