Constructing an Island of Hope
Open Doors (OD) has always strengthened the persecuted church, equipping the body to be salt and light in the most difficult environments. OD supports a secret rehabilitation center in Central Asia that God uses to impact the surrounding society and to draw Muslims to Himself. Meet Murat*, a former drug addicted Muslim who now follows Jesus, and faithfully serves the church thanks to your prayers and support.
When Murat first heard about Christ from his neighbor, a member of the local evangelical church, he thought that Jesus Christ was a Russian god. As a Muslim, Murat was hesitant to convert because he had been instructed all his life to pray only to Allah and follow the teachings of the Prophet Mohammed. After many years of intense heroin addiction, Murat realized that true freedom is found only in the Living God, Jesus Christ. He had been an addict for many years and wanted to quit, but could not break free. Finally, he decided to pray to Jesus for His help to leave his life of heroin addiction and desperation behind, and enter through the gate that leads to life.
“I had been a heroin addict for over five years,” said Murat, age 42 and now a participant at the rehabilitation center. “Through the Rehabilitation Center Program, I noticed that God began to change my attitude, and I began to realize that I could no longer live as I did before. However, I could not overcome my addiction with sheer willpower; I needed support. At that time, my family had abandoned me because of my new faith, and my friends, who were also on drugs, severely beat me for telling them about Christ. ”
“I was not wanted by anyone,” Murat sighs. Then his eyes lit up. “But I discovered that I was desired by Christ. At some point, I found myself on the street, homeless. I spent about two months wandering through the cellars, but through my new brothers in Christ, the Lord rescued me from desperation. Through their love and the [Rehab Center] program, God set me free from drug addiction. He even gave me a job and a house and called me to join the church. He gave me a new goal in this life’to worship Him and live according to His Word!”
The Rehab Center functions with support from Open Doors, but local Christians run it. It was founded by persecuted Christians who had experienced drug and alcohol addictions in the past. Today, the Center is not only involved in helping people gain freedom from drug and alcohol addiction, but also in sharing Christ in a society that is hostile to Christian activities. In the words of an Open Doors worker, “This Rehab Center is an island of hope; a place full of love and care for persecuted Christians whose lives have crashed.”
Murat’s changed life is obvious fruit of their ministry. “I used to steal,” said Murat. “I always needed to find money for the next dose, but now I work for the glory of Christ. I help others to find true freedom.”
Currently, there are twelve people in the Center’s rehab program. The participants live at the Center and receive counseling. In addition, each person is in charge of certain areas of responsibility. Some are responsible for yard work; others prepare breakfast or perform other indoor chores. Besides that, they are encouraged to learn a profession such as beekeeping, plumbing or carpentry. All of these former addicts have become Christians and have faced, or are facing, a certain degree of persecution for their faith, mostly from their families and former friends.
Recently, an Open Doors worker visited the Rehabilitation Center to meet Murat and others like him to hear their stories. After spending two days at the Center, he shared, “Despite the cold and gray walls in the building of the Center, despite the wretchedness and poverty of the premises, and even being in the midst of people who are struggling with addictions, there was a feeling of warmth and joy that came from the unity we have in Christ. We thank God for our loyal supporters who make this outreach possible”
* Name changed for security reasons
Thank You, Father, for Murat and others who have come to faith in Christ through this Rehabilitation Center, and for the support of Open Doors in this ministry. We thank You that You have not only saved them, but are changing the lives of those who struggle with addictions; that You are equipping them daily to live holy lives. We pray for those who live in the Center; that You will strengthen them daily in the midst of their temptations; that You will strengthen them to stand in their new identity of sons of the King. Thank You that You accomplish this work even in the poverty of the premises and that the warmth and joy come from You, but we pray that You might also improve their physical circumstances. In the name of Jesus, who is changing us day by day into His likeness, Amen.