February 6, 2016 by Janelle P in Middle East

January brought great difficulties for Christians in several Central Asian countries.

Sisters, Sabina*, Madina* and Nargiz*, were brutally beaten by a relative who discovered their Christian faith. This angry relative now refused to let them go out of the house. The sisters have remained true to their faith in the face of his aggressive demands that they deny Christ.

Sister Soyora* (21) from a village in Tajikistan, has become active in a Bible study home group as well as the Protestant Underground House Church. Her brother Adeel* returned home after a time away and discovered that she had converted to Christianity. He threatened to beat her and kick her out of the house if she does not renounce Christ.

A group of radical young men recently attacked Brother Kemir*, pastor of a Protestant church in Kyrgyzstan, when he parked his vehicle by the roadside. After one of the men came over and broke the car antennas, a group of 4 or 5 men ran over and brutally beat him. He was hospitalized with a concussion and a number of bruises.

Amid the trials and hardship facing Christians throughout Central Asia, Open Doors is working to restore hope through the socioeconomic development program.

Abdul* was known for being a skilled and friendly worker in his job as a sales manager at a big furniture company in his town. Everyone loved to work with him, appreciating his hardworking attitude and the way he approached his colleagues. However, at the age of 37, after eight years of faithful service, Abdul was fired from his job because of his Christian faith and love for Jesus. Abdul was left without an income and livelihood to support his wife and four children.

Abdul and his wife Arina* came to faith about five years ago. When the pastor of their church moved to another city two years ago to plant a new church, Abdul was ordained as the pastor for their congregation. However, since the church wasn’t able to provide a salary, Abdul kept his job as a sales manager. When the owner of the furniture company, a strong Muslim, learned that one of his employees was a Christian pastor, he immediately signed the order to fire Abdul.

The director of the sales department tried everything to help keep Abdul his position, even asking him to refuse Christ and leave the Church. “You have a family, you must feed them; leave your Christ for the sake of your family,” the director urged Abdul. In spite of the pressure, Abdul stood strong. “There is no way I’m going to refuse Him who did not refuse me and who died for my sins,” Abdul replied. He was then without a job.

“It was a very difficult time for my family,” Abdul says now. He tried to earn money as a private taxi driver, but could barely make ends meet. “I remember one day when we did not have enough money to buy milk for our kids,” he recalled. “I came into our apartment and saw my wife, Arina. She was crying. I went to our bedroom, upset and questioning God’s will for my family. I fell on my knees and began praying, ‘Heavenly Father, did You really want me to serve as a pastor? Did I understand you correctly? Please reveal Your plan for my family and show me Your face!’”

God answered that prayer a week later through a meeting with an Open Doors worker. After explaining his situation and sharing his desire to continue serving as a pastor, Open Doors arranged for Abdul to receive a micro-loan to start his own business. The small shop, which Abdul started to sell household water filters, provided him with an income to support his family and allowed him to continue serving the church. Abdul has since expanded the shop and is also selling building materials and equipment. “I was able to hire two Christian brothers to help me with the shop, so I’m practically free and available for the pastoral ministry within the church now,” Abdul shared.

*Names changed for security reasons

Thank You, Father, for Pastor Abdul and for the ways You have used Open Doors to sustain him and his family and to provide income for other Christians as well. Thank You for the good testimony of his excellent service among those he worked with previously. We pray that You will use that testimony of Your presence in him to turn their hearts to You, even in ways we may never know. We pray for Sabina, Madina and Nargiz, for Soyora and Kemir. Hedge them about in Your hand of protection. Strengthen them to remain faithful in the face of threats. Heal their wounds and fill them with courage, strength and wisdom to face each new day. And cause the truth and light of Your gospel to penetrate the spiritual darkness in Central Asia. In the Name of Jesus, our Savior, in whom we live and move and have our being, Amen.

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