Testimony of a graduate student in Transformative Leadership from Kyrgyzstan, Central Asia (no name is used in order to protect the student’s identity).
I come from a very Islamized region in the South of Kyrgyzstan. There are four mosques in our town. All children get their spiritual mentors as soon as they become literate. With my ancestors being Muslim leaders, I was also raised in Islamic traditions.
Later several tragedies occurred in my life. First, I lost four of my close friends. Second, two of my brothers became disabled. Third, I got sick and was about to die. I could not get rid of all those ‘Why’ questions, which were haunting me day and night. As a result, I started reading the Koran, trying to find out how to get to the heaven, but did not discover any answers. One might think that the Koran has answers to all important life questions, but it doesn’t. The same can be said about the Hadiths, which are even more confusing.
So, I started questioning the Hadith, but not the Koran which I still considered truthful. Then I referred to other sacred books such as the Torah, Psalms, the New Testament. I thought that, having read those books, I would understand the Koran better.
At that time a Baptist woman presented me a Bible in Russian. God must have chosen me and given me a desire to seek Him. When I started reading the Bible, everything fit together and I received answers to all my questions. In fact, while reading about Jesus, I got more answers than questions. I also understood that Islam and Christianity could not be equally true, as they contradict one another. It took me some time to believe that the truth is in Christ alone.
However, God was working in my heart. In 1995 I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. As far as I know, I was one of the first Muslims in our region who became Christians. Afterwards, God gave me a burning desire to share with others what God had revealed to me. Reaching out to nonbelievers became the purpose of my life. God opened the hearts of my friends and we started as a group of 10 Christians. We met on a daily basis to read the Scriptures, worship God and preach the Gospel. Also, we felt obliged to share the God we had found with others, who did not know Him.
We were very active preaching the Gospel and did not want to stop despite numerous warnings. Once around 5,000 people gathered in a neighboring mosque along with their religious leaders. Those who took the floor insisted on stopping us so that we ‘could not poison the whole community.” The crowd got enraged and started crying ‘Allah Akbar’. They were urged to come to our house and punish us. So, around 2,000 people made it to our house and seized us. Their leader said that we were traitors and had to repent or die. He demanded each of us to make a choice. I happened to be the first to come in. Everyone was staring at me… I am usually courageous but at that moment I felt calm. Though I did not know what to say, words just flew out.
I said that, having read both the Koran, and the Gospel, I found the latter truthful. I accepted that truth into my heart and promised to be faithful to God. I added that I was ready to die for Him. Later three more brothers in Christ joined me and also refused to abandon their faith in Jesus. Then the Muslim leader back-pedaled by calling us heroes of our faith and saying that we had set a good example of how to remain faithful.
I don’t know what would have happened to us if three militia guys had not taken us to their car. In fact, they saved us from the crowd. People thought that we were being taken into custody. However, in time we were released.
Praise the Lord, I still live in my native town. The atmosphere has changed. Today we have 7 prayer groups and practice discipleship. I was ordained as a pastor in 2005. My brothers are also Christians. Our parents have passed away, but, hopefully, they both had accepted Christ.
Recently I met Fedir Raychynets, who came to teach at the Central Asian Bible School in Kyrgyzstan, and asked him if I could enroll into the master’s program in Transformative Leadership at Ukrainian Evangelical Theological Seminary. I have come to Ukraine as I feel the need to grow spiritually and help other people to grow in their faith.