Across Central Asia, Christian young people are facing threats, violence and exclusion because of their choice to follow Jesus. Many of these states have large Muslim populations, or have oppressive government systems that try to stifle free speech and the rights of people to choose what they believe. Christianity is often seen as a western religion, and therefore Christians are traitors.
In this context, Christian young people can face some pretty harsh treatment. We’ve heard recent reports of discrimination at school from teachers and violence from other young people – towards children and teenagers. But despite the darkness, there is light. Young people are shining God’s love and showing others who Jesus is.
In one central Asian country, a police officer had been tasked with finding and arresting a Christian pastor who had been holding underground church meetings. The policeman had identified the pastor and went to his house, ready to arrest him.
On arriving at the house the policeman was greeted by the pastor’s young daughter daughter – she was no more than 10 years old. He asked the girl if her father was home.
The girl answered, “No, my father isn’t home… Would you like to come in and wait for him?”
The man agreed and was shown into the house where he could wait for the father.
After some time the girl approached the police officer and said, “My father is obviously going to be longer than I thought. I have already begun to prepare dinner – would you like to have some food while you wait?”
The man gratefully accepted the invitation.
After the girl had served dinner for them both at the table she said, “we usually pray before we eat – do you do the same?”
The commander looks at her and says, “No, I don’t pray before I eat”.
The girl said, “Never mind, I can pray for you as well.”
So she starts to pray – “Heavenly father. Thank you very much that you are taking care of us. Thank you very much for this food in front of us. Also, thank you Lord, for bringing this good man into our house. Will you bless our fellowship. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”
The police officer was amazed by this prayer. This girl is thanking God for him! He knew that he wasn’t a ‘good man’ – he had done many bad things. And he knew the real reason that he was there to see this girl’s father.
A little while after they had finished eating, the pastor arrived home. Instead of taking him away, the police officer told the man about the little girl’s prayer and how much it had touched him. He then began to ask questions about their faith.
Before the police officer left that evening, he had become a follower of Jesus Christ as well!
This story happened a few years ago, and for security reasons we can’t share the names of anyone involved – the policeman is still protecting the underground church that the pastor still leads!
Hevenly Father, be with children in Central Asia, especially those whose parents have made the decision to follow You. Lord, You know how they are being treated, You know how they suffer from discrimination and how much pain they experience. But Lord, we know that that You can come alongside them, that You can bless them and You can help them to stand strong. Bring them peace and comfort, bless them and let them know your love and protection. Help them to stay strong to endure persecution. Let them experience Your are close to them. In Jesus name, Amen.
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