Testimony from UzbekistanWindow to the World

I was born into a Muslim family of labourers in Uzbekistan. My parents were members of the communist party and were honest workers. My father was very strict but was often away on business and my mother played a key role in my upbringing. My mother believed in God in the way of Islam even though she was a member of the Communist party. She worked more than twenty years in managerial position for our government. She used her authority to help the poor and to the marginalized, giving them an opportunity to work and study. Even though she had a high position at work she was modest, never using her authority for personal gain and taught us to do the same.

When I was in first grade my father left the family and all the responsibility was on my mother. She became stricter with us because she tried to give the three children good upbringing and we did not have any need. She taught me many things: knitting, sewing, embroidery and cooking. Watching the life of my mother I can see her beauty and honest attitude to others. Her presence always brings joy and cosiness in our home. I thank God for my mother and I pray every day about her salvation, that He would reveal the truth to her.

I am the oldest and therefore became responsible for my two younger siblings when my mother was not home. My brother was always kind and shared what he had. In fifth grade he entered a military school and from that moment on, we did not see each other often. My sister and I became very close to each other when he left. She loved to sing various songs and write their lyrics on notebooks. Our grandmother had a major impact on our spiritual development. She feared God and was very sensitive to every human being regardless of their age. Every year I would spend my summer vacation in her house. She taught me to pray in Muslim manner and to obey the rules of this religion. My mother told me that during World War II, my grandmother would prepare food and share it with the neighbours. They would come to her house with their bowls and then she would distribute the food and bread to all according to the number of people in their families. Looking at my grandmother I admire her sacrificial heart.

From my childhood I wanted to understand if there is God. Once, when coming home from kindergarten I asked my mother, ‘Mom is there God?’ and she said, ‘Sometimes I believe that He is, but then some other times I don’t’. Despite this reply I tried to find something that would reveal to me the truth about God’s existence. As I grew older I would think about this subject more. In my soul I had an assurance that He is and my desire to know Him more was growing inside of me. Watching my inner condition I began to notice that my knowledge was growing not from outside information that I was getting through literature and society, but from inner search. I learned to pray in my adolescence years and I began to call upon God and thank Him for everything that was happening to me and for all of His works in my life. The more I searched for Him the more He would reveal of Himself to me. Even though I was praying in Muslim manner and trying to keep rules of Islam, I wanted to know more about God and His character very much. After the standard morning prayer of Islam, I wanted to learn additional prayers. During this time of my life, I saw a bright movie poster and on it there was written ‘JESUS’ in capital letters and I wanted to see that movie. Every time as I was passing by movie theatres I would see that word with bright letters ‘JESUS’ and my desire to be there was growing more and more in my heart.

When my brother was away at the academy, someone told him about Jesus Christ and gave him a New Testament. He accepted Jesus without hesitation and began to pray for all of us, that we would also come to know Jesus Christ. In 1993 a Tajik women named Shirinay came to our city. She preached about Jesus Christ in the University where my sister was studying at that time. When my sister heard the Gospel she also accepted Jesus in her heart as her personal Saviour. When she came home after that she told me about Jesus Christ and I accepted Him with gladness into my heart.

I learned that He is God’s Son who was born of the Holy Spirit, died for my sins, rose on the third day and ascended into heaven. As I read my Bible every day God revealed His truth and in the light of that I saw my sinfulness and realization of this brought me to repentance. I asked for forgiveness and received forgiveness just the way God promised in His Word; that if we ask the Father in the name of Jesus Christ, He would give us the forgiveness that can only be obtained through Jesus. After I realized this in my heart, I opened a new page in my life and I began to live a new life. First of all I had peace with God, joy in my heart and freedom. Second, I had many friends now that also love God and want to serve Him; and so my life became more interesting. Third and most important for me, I now have assurance in the future and I look forward to meeting my Lord in heaven.

Two years after my repentance, I learned that Christians need to be baptized. I understood that it is important for those who have experienced salvation to be born of water and of the Spirit; and so immediately I wanted to be baptized in water. I spoke with the pastor and after two weeks of prayer and fasting, I was baptized. We must conduct our water baptisms in secret, usually at night with great caution. After my baptism, we gather in an apartment and pray, sing and glorify God, but whispering and not out loud. Despite threats and persecution, our church is growing. When my mother found out that I decided to follow Jesus Christ, she saw it as treason to our family’s faith and for that reason I have been tested. I was thirsty to hear God’s Word and tried not to miss any services at church. I wanted to tell all others about God’s love but I understood that my mother would not like it. I had to create reasons to go to services that were conducted in other cities. Sometimes I was riding seven hours to be 40 minutes in a church service. I did not waste my time on the train and I tried to tell others about Jesus Christ. I would talk very loud on purpose, so that others could also hear the Good News. Some people would be interested and they would sit closer to our seats and they would ask questions and hearing my replies many would think deeply.
My mother was eventually called into the Department of Justice and was told that I was attending Christian meetings and they threatened to fire her from her position. That evening was very hard for me; she beat me with her fists until I was bleeding, she pulled out chunks of my hair and I had wounds all over my body. I thought that

my jaw was broken. That night I had to sleep sitting up because of the pain. When I was beaten I was silently praying to God to give me strength and would pray this prayer again and again and after every hit I would say ‘Praise to God, praise to God’. During these times I would remember some places in Scripture where it says not to be afraid of those that can kill the body, but not the soul. I thought, ‘let my body suffer, the important thing is that nobody can steal from me the One who is in my heart’. I was looking at my mother and I had pity for her. She could not understand me and I asked God to forgive her and not to count against her this sin. Every time she found out that I had been attending a Christian meeting, I was beaten. The police also began to harass me. They came to my work place and strictly warned me not to attend meetings. They told me that I could study at home but not attend church meetings. For our safety, the congregation would often change the place of our meetings.

Over time, the beatings from my mother stopped when she realized that I was not going to stop attending Christian gatherings and that I was actually living a life where God’s blessing was evident. I still had times of doubts and difficulties, testing and temptations. There was one difficult time when I began to think about the Koran’s truth. At that time my heart began to incline toward Islam, but I could not reject Christ. I can give glory to God that I had my brothers and sisters by my side at that time. They supported me and interceded before God for me in prayers. In this testing I realized how much it is important for me to be faithful to the Lord and if one loses his/her faith it will be worse than the first. I realized that when my grandmother was dying, she was buried according to Muslim customs and since I was her close relative I had to participate in the Muslim prayers. At that time I again was immersed into Muslim world and felt with my heart the misleading and lying of this teaching. Also I saw the contrast between these two religions. After experiencing that I am now standing strong on the foundation of Jesus Christ and want to be found faithful to Him only. I think that God had a purpose in letting me to go through that testing. Now I can understand and have compassion on those that do not know the truth and I know how to direct them to the way of truth.

After reading the Word of God I began to think, ‘Why did God create me?’ In time God revealed to me that He created me for His glory. To glorify God, in my opinion, was to present a correct view of Him; to do His will in this world so that other people would see in my life a glorification of God. I began to search and ask God to reveal to me my ministry. In time God began to reveal and entrust me with ministry. Our pastor has asked me to prepare and deliver sermons. I was responsible for the library of our house group and assigning various readings with homework. I have also lead our quiet worship services with my guitar. From my early childhood I have had sympathy with the poor, the hungry, the homeless, the ones without family, the lonely and the orphans. Our congregation visits nursing homes and hospitals. Our pastor’s wife leads a regular work in a psychiatric hospital. I will never forget those experiences when I have travelled with her and found hungry patients locked behind rusty bars and empty brick walls looking out through glassless windows. The patients of this hospital call her ‘mom’ and when they see us coming; they gather together saying “mom, our mom is here’. Our small group tries to feed and clothe them as best we can but our resources are limited. We also distribute spiritual literature, sing songs, tell them about Christ and pray with them. Every time I come back from the hospital, I cannot think about anything but those people. God has placed in my heart the desire to help them and for this reason I have gone to various organizations asking for help. Our church collects as much as we can for them but our people live in poor conditions. We gather enough for a monthly trip but we desire to visit the patients more frequently.

From the start of my Christian life, I have wanted a spiritual education. In our church, I had many responsibilities and for that reason, our pastor did not want to let me leave. I eventually found a distance learning program which allowed me to study the Bible. The more I studied, the more I realized how limited was my knowledge. The more I studied, the thirstier I became. I learned that there was an opportunity for me to study in Eurasian Theological Seminary in Moscow. I began to pray that God would let me be admitted. But, I would have to choose between a prestigious job with good salary or to study at the seminary. In spite of the obstacles I was sure that it was God’s will for me to study further ...

 

This article was written by a student. For reasons of security the name is withheld.