This is the story of a woman in Central Asia who found Christ in the middle of a crisis
God has sent missionaries to Central Asia to pray, sow seeds of Truth, engage in spiritual warfare, and spread hope to those living under the clouds of Communism and Islam. You may wonder, how does someone come to the point of putting their faith in Jesus? Romans 10:17 tells us, “Faith comes from hearing the message and the message is heard through the word about Christ.”
The gospel was not something one Kazak woman, named Gulidan, nor her husband wanted or needed; they were Muslim, and satisfied with Islam. I met Gulidan at a mutual friend’s daughter’s first birthday party. The friend was Han Chinese, and a believer. A birthday party in Central Asia is more than just eating cake and opening presents. It is a 3-4 hour event with several dishes of savory food, fresh and dried fruit, breads, nuts and of course a birthday cake. Han people feel free to eat any food, including food considered unclean by Muslims. Even though the Kazak woman was very careful to choose what she ate, and did not eat even with the newly bought silverware (it could have previously touched unclean food), the fact that she was there with non-Muslims made me wonder how open this Kazak woman could be to the Gospel. Would she ever consider putting her faith in Jesus? A year later, she did!
So what changed? If you could sit and talk with Gulidan, this is what the conversation might look like:
You: What is your family life like? Are you married or have children?
Gulidan: I come from a traditional Kazak family. I lived in a small village for most of my life. Then I married and moved to a bigger city. I have two boys, ages fourteen and seven.
You: Do you have an occupation?
Gulidan: Yes, I am an English tutor for minority students. I enjoy teaching middle school and high school students English and helping them with questions they have about English. I want to encourage a love and interest for the English language.
You: Have you studied English for a long time?
Gulidan: Actually no. I began to study English when my second son was 3 years old. I studied at a local university. I had a foreign teacher, the first foreigner I had ever met.
You: Did this foreigner tell you about Jesus?
Gulidan: Yes. My family was visiting this foreigner’s home for a meal. Afterwards we were sitting around telling stories and enjoying some tea when the foreigner started talking about Jesus and why I needed Jesus. I told him I was a good person and tried to do good things to outweigh the bad things. I said I only ate clean foods and did some prayers and tried to be a good Muslim. The foreigner told a story: If you have poison in food, adding good food will not remove the poison. It is totally contaminated. He was trying to tell me that my good works were not enough to clean me of the sin in my life. My husband became angry, so we stopped talking about Jesus and religion that night. We were still friends, but we did not talk about anything related to Jesus after that. That must have been about 5 years ago.
You: Now you believe in Jesus?
Gulidan: Yes, now I do.
You: What changed?
Gulidan: Exactly a year ago, my oldest son had a mental breakdown from the pressures of school. I took him to a local hospital where they told us that it was a bigger issue and sent us to doctors in the capital city. I packed my bags, not knowing it would be 3 months before we would come home again. My son was put on 4 different kinds of medication. He became angry, gave up on life, and felt helpless. As his mother, I wept for him daily. I didn’t have anyone in the capital I could talk with. If I told my family, they would not understand and think my son was crazy.
But one day a friend of the foreigner came to visit. He talked with my son and me, in Kazak, and gave me a Bible in the Kazak language. I had never seen the Bible written in my mother tongue. I began to read it at nights while my son slept. The friend prayed for us and told us that Jesus is the great Healer and great Comforter. After 3 months, the doctors said my son could go home, but would need to continue the medication and remove any stress in his life, like school, for about 2 years. I was very happy to come home, but didn’t know what to do next.
You: What happened after you got home?
Gulidan: I was supported by another foreign woman (we had met at a different friend’s birthday party). She understood, and encouraged me to pray to Jesus. I told her that I had sought peace and comfort in Allah, but did not find it; the religion I had lived for did not help me during those 3 months in the hospital. But when I was reading the Bible, I felt peace and love and support. I kept reading the Kazak Bible in my free time. My husband also started reading it early in the mornings before he went to work.
One day, I decided to believe in Jesus, who I first heard about 5 years before. He had been so real and present with me through the difficult 3 months. I didn’t believe in Allah anymore. I told God I wanted to follow Him and no one else.
You: When did you tell others about your decision to follow Jesus?
Gulidan: I knew my foreign friends were praying for me. I could trust them, so I shared the news with them first. I told them that I read the Bible daily and want to obey Jesus.
You: What change or differences do you see in your life after you decided to believe in Jesus?
Gulidan: God comforts me; He gives me peace when I read His word. He healed my son. It is by God’s power and work that my son is back in school, and excelling. I see that God has a purpose for me and what my son went through. I thought that life was hard before with raising 2 boys, but when my world came crashing down and I couldn’t do anything to help my son, God was there. He surely is my Hope and Salvation and I will live the rest of my days learning more about Him and following Him.
You: Will you meet with a church or other Kazaks who are believers?
Gulidan: I know other Kazak believers in our city and perhaps one day we will enjoy fellowship together. It is too dangerous for us to meet. For now, I am reading the Bible and spending time with Jesus in the evenings. God has been working in my husband as he continues to read the New Testament in Kazak. My sons also see me reading the Bible and we have had conversations about Jesus and God. I fear that others outside of our family will hear of my new faith, and we could get in trouble by the police or government.
God continues to work in Gulidan’s life! You may never meet this Kazak woman, but there are people around you who need to hear about Jesus. God is working in Central Asia, and he can work right where you live as well.