Interview with Liza, a graduate of Cross-Cultural Mission Program, about her ministry in Kazakhstan.
How did your ministry in Kazakhstan start?
My ministry in Kazakhstan started in the town of Abay and its outskirts. There I served teenagers for more than 5 years. Along with local youth, we organized a ministry for teenagers and formed a team which could continue it independently.
I experienced a lot of joyful moments during those five years. I saw teenagers undergo drastic changes. I saw how their lives were changing, how they were following the Lord. Many of them later got involved in teen ministry too. Some of the teenagers seemed like they would never change, but God proved the opposite in an amazing way. Today they are in ministry. It is a great joy when you can see that “your labor is not in vain.”
Why did you move to Almaty?
While living in Abay, I thought that I would work with teenagers all my life. However, God changed my plans. I moved to the city of Almaty to help plant a new church there. The first thought that occurred to me upon my arrival was that I had to get busy doing something, but God mildly reminded me to slow down so that He could lead me.
Initially, I did not know what to do. As a matter of fact, the plan we had made with the pastor of the church did not work because of the national quarantine put in place just before my arrival. Church services were held online. Everything except for grocery stores was closed. Public transportation was not working either. So, I started praying and waiting.
Eventually, the Lord provided ministry opportunities for me, namely counselling 2 women once a week and serving in two camps for the disabled. Also, I initiated a women’s sports club and went hiking with girls. After having built friendships, I found it possible to share the Gospel with them.
Today, we don’t have a church building, but what we have is a team that loves God and people. It is prohibited to openly evangelize in Kazakhstan. However, God gives us wisdom to use those instruments at our disposal, such as English clubs, seminars and master classes which provide new opportunities to share the Gospel. Also, we make friends with non-believers who would like to know more about God. I have many ideas on how to serve even during the quarantine, but I need the Lord to lead me.
Can you share any testimonies of changed or impacted lives as a result of your ministry?
Currently, I am working as a babysitter for several families who have become my good friends. In one of these families a baby was recently born by c-section. On the next day the newborn child was taken to an ICU where he spent around a week. We all prayed. Upon release from the hospital, the parents wrote that my prayers had helped and that I had been sent to them by God. On Christmas, our church prepared gifts for the children in those families and I read the Christmas story with them.
How has UETS contributed to your ministry in Kazakhstan?
I spent the last summer in Ukraine studying in in the Cross-Cultural Mission Program at UETS. As a matter of fact, being involved in different ministries in Kazakhstan, I often had to explain the difference between Christianity and Islam and talk to Muslim people about Christ. At first, my knowledge of the topic was very limited, but due to the course I took at the UETS I started to better understand the mentality of Muslim people and their culture. With this understanding I found it possible to make friends with the local people and serve them more effectively.
What are your current prayer needs?
Definitely, I have many prayer needs. In addition to God’s guidance in general, I would like to ask for prayer for the teenagers I ministered to in Abay – that they would remain faithful to the Lord.
I have a special burden in my heart for the girls and women I minister to. Among them are Liza (from a believing family) with Down syndrome and Sasha (from a non-believing family) who has cerebral palsy. I would be very grateful if you would pray with me for them.
Apart from that, I have some health and financial issues. I am struggling with pain in my back and stomach and I want to rent an apartment to make it a place for serving other people. Also, I would like to ask for pray for a women’s Bible study I plan to start and for our church team in Almaty as we all need God’s wisdom and protection.