When Layla was only 6-years-old, her parents divorced. After the divorce, Layla missed her father badly.
“I often cried and wanted my father to come back to our family. I dreamed he would be there to protect me from evil and troubles in my life,” Layla shared with tears in her eyes. But God had a different plan for Layla. Instead of bringing her father back, God revealed Himself to her. When she turned 16, she prayed to receive Christ after a teacher at her school shared the gospel with his students. Immediately after she accepted Christ, Layla began attending the local church in her hometown.
The initial reaction of her mother and younger brother wasn’t problematic, but as Layla continued to grow in her relationship with the Lord, her relatives became upset. Her mother started yelling at Layla for choosing the Christian religion. Her brother even beat Layla a couple of times and her cousins locked her up at home, not allowing her to visit Sunday service at the church or the Bible study group. “The first two or three years of my walk with the Lord were relatively peaceful and calm!” she exclaimed. “But then, I began to feel as if strangers had replaced my mother and brother. I began to live in an atmosphere of hatred and rejection from my relatives.”
When their efforts did not convince her to reject her faith, her Muslim brother and cousins did a very horrible thing to Layla. They locked her up, held her, and shaved her head. A woman’s hair is her pride, especially in Eastern cultures. A bald woman lives in disgrace. Why did they do it? “I think they wanted to humiliate me and show that a young Tajik lady who believes in Christ is a shame in our culture,” said Layla. “I could not stand it anymore, so one day I ran away from my house and have not gone back since!”
Layla stayed at her friend’s house for about five months, and then she learned that her mother wanted her to return, but only if she rejected her Christian religion. She phoned her mother and explained that her personal faith is much more than just a ‘religion’ and much more than ‘just a way of life’. Layla shared the gospel with her mother over the phone. She told her mother: “My biological father left me when I was 6, but I have found a Heavenly Father who promised me that he would never forsake me.” Her mother was not impressed. “You may come back when you get rid of your stupid beliefs,” she said.
Currently, Layla is participating in a social program for women who are victims of domestic violence. She lives in a dormitory with a couple of women. Each of them is responsible for a specific job. Layla works at the preschool kindergarten as a teacher’s assistant in a village. She is very grateful for God. “I know that He is my shield and my shelter. He will never forsake me, even if the whole world is against me.”
*Names and photos are representative for the safety of persecuted Christians