Stories

Central Asian Pastor Refuses to Leave Despite Death Threats

March 6, 2016 by Janelle P in

*representative image used to protect identity

Pastor Amin* is one of the most gentle people you will ever meet. He diligently serves the Lord in his Central Asian country by planting a church, organizing missionary schools and summer camps for Muslim children and founding a rehab center for drug addicts and alcoholics. Now, he receives the same kind of death threats as those which led up to the murder of a fellow pastor some time ago.

Amin used to be a youth leader in the church. He organized youth evangelistic trips to towns and villages where they preached the gospel to Muslims and distributed Bibles and Christian literature among them. He also worked as a deacon in church for many years where he helped another pastor named Rashid. Several years ago, he said to Amin, “I feel that death for the gospel follows me. But I won’t hide. I will be exactly where God wants to see me.”

One day, Rashid left the ‘prayer house’ and got into his car. Suddenly, a man in camouflage wearing a black mask approached the vehicle, pulled out a gun and shot him through the window. The bullet hit Rashid’s head and he died on the spot. The murderer was never found.

Amin and other Christians mourned the loss of their friend and spiritual mentor, but he continued to work for the Lord. Amin is now a pastor of a big church that consists mostly of former Muslims. A Christian couple, Shamil (47) and Aisha (43), members of Amin’s church, were devoted Muslims a couple of years ago. But Jesus reached their hearts in Amin’s church through witnesses and relationships. Now they are dedicated to preach the gospel without any fear to their Muslim friends and relatives. “We want to share Christ in our native language. That is very important because Muslims in this country call Christ ‘a Russian God’. We want to help them accept the truth.”

Amin has also developed a rehab ministry in that state. Each year, dozens of drug addicts and drunkards receive healing in the rehab center founded by Amin. 42 year-old Murad—one of the rehabilitants who came to faith through Amin’s witness—shares: “Several years ago, my body was almost destroyed because of drugs. In the rehab center, I heard about Christ. I realized that He loved me all my life and I could win.” Now Murad is a home group leader.

A couple of months ago, Amin was called to the federal security service. “The officers told me they had indications that extremists were planning to kill me and my family. They said I needed to be careful and stop my ministry. They said it would be even better if I left the country for good. Just a couple of weeks ago, I received another warning from them.”

The threats came closer to home when aggressive people showed up at his door several times. One time, two guys who appeared to be very aggressive came to his house and knocked on the door. When Amin opened, they called him outside. One of them said: “I am a faithful Muslim, so I have to participate in ‘jihad’ (the Islamic holy war, with which he meant to kill infidels and sinners) to do my God’s will.”

“Do it if you must. Here I am,” Amin responded quietly. The attackers were surprised by his courage and calmness. After several minutes of conversation, the Muslim man admitted: “I came to kill you because you preach about an alien God and turn faithful Muslims into Christians, but something prevents me. I don’t understand what is happening, but I will come again.”

Amin appears to shield himself emotionally from the events. However, it’s clear he realizes how difficult it is for his wife, children and himself to live in constant danger. Open Doors will provide them with a temporary stay in a safe house so they can rest and return when they feel the time is right.

This year, Amin’s goal is to prepare Christian leaders who can continue his ministry, so that the gospel would never be hindered. Amin selected five men, former Muslims, whom he prays for and teaches to be leaders and pastors.

In Amin’s country, radical Islam is on the rise, which makes the situation harder for the small group of Christians. But Amin continues his ministry there. He echoes the words of his deceased mentor: “I will never hide.”

*Names changed for security reasons

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