Across Central Asia Christianity faces restrictions and in many places it’s really difficult for Christians to openly express and share their faith in Jesus. But, the Covid-19 pandemic has meant new opportunities to speak about Jesus are emerging…
In one country, Open Doors local partners heard that hospitals did not have enough small, portable machines that provide oxygen for Covid-19 patients for four hours at a time.
Having purchased machines – thanks to your amazing generosity – the partners contacted local hospitals, asking, “Who are the families that cannot be taken to hospital but need urgent help?” Names and addresses were provided for the partners to visit.
“One case was an older lady whose family was previously very hostile to the gospel,” shares Timur, an Open Doors local partner whose name we’ve changed to protect his identity. “The family didn’t even ask who these people were. They accepted them very gladly.”
Whilst the lady was given oxygen for four hours, there was ample opportunity to talk. “Central Asian people love to talk,” Timur continues. “After the family discovered their visitors were Christians, they asked, ‘Why do you do this?’ It was a wonderful opportunity to reach out to this family. Now this family attend church. They haven’t yet accepted Jesus, but their attitude completely changed.”
Given the limitations on leaving home, local partners made themselves available to deliver food to people – which the governments permitted. “In some cities, believers started to walk the streets and help people with food shopping,” Timur says. “Surprisingly, the police – who were watching the city and knew they were Christians – didn’t stop them.”
“Together with the food, believers also gave out (Christian) books,” Timur adds. “In some cases, it was the only moment, probably in the last 20 years, when we could do this openly.”
“The negative part of Covid-19, we all know, but the positive part for us is that many people who were closed to the gospel are suddenly open,” Timur continues. “We could meet families, thousands of them. They just needed help and somebody who could come and at least talk to them, because in some of the countries quarantine was so strict.”
There have been other areas where local partners have quickly adapted to lockdown restrictions. Online meetings and streaming have developed, enabling church services, youth work and leadership training to continue. Websites for young people are being produced. “God found solutions for us, even in this challenging time,” Timur says.
Sadly, as has happened across the world, following Jesus has led to many being overlooked in the distribution of aid. Across Central Asia, many believers from Muslim backgrounds have been denied help by their Muslim communities. One group of believers were not given food packages by their community, leaving them to survive by eating grass. Thankfully, Open Doors local partners have since been able to provide them with food.
Timur closes with a word of gratitude for you. “We are very thankful that, even though we have never met personally, we feel your presence and love and faith in God, and we are very encouraged by this. Thank you very much to each of you. We will also pray for your personal situations, businesses and families, that God will protect and guide you, and give you shalom – a deep, deep shalom in your heart in whatever situation you are in.”
Give thanks to God for the remarkable opportunities that have opened up in Central Asia to talk about Jesus – please pray that this will continue and lead to a bountiful harvest of people coming to know Jesus
That all believers suffering financial hardship because of the pandemic will have all their needs met.
For protection, strength and wisdom for local partners as they serve in the region, and for complete healing for all those infected with Covid-19
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