01 Jan 2009
Note: Personal names have been changed.
This could be almost any small city in Kazakhstan … or possibly in the United States or Europe. Japanese, Korean and European made automobiles are all around and most are new. People are coming and going as they finish their shopping or their work. Others stop along the highway to catch up on the latest happenings of the day. There is a special place for kids to play on a small merry-go-round and, … nearby, some barbeque chicken to take home for the evening meal.
This is the city of Talgar … population 80,000 … located 20 miles east of Almaty. Even though it is the administrative center for the Talgar district, the mountains to the south are the main attraction in both winter and summer.
Following the pattern of the Republic of Kazakhstan, about one-half of the people are Kazakh and, therefore, culturally Muslim. Some are easily identified by their distinctive attire and others are definitely not Muslim … perhaps Russian Orthodox or simply indifferent to religious convictions.
By a miracle of God, others have chosen to follow a different path. They are committed to sharing the Truth of the Bible … a growing trend in this country.
We met Arman and two of his friends in the backyard of his home. Arman, while holding his youngest son, explains that he accepted Christ as his Savior and Lord nine years ago. Urged on by his younger brother who converted from Islam a year earlier, this decision was in response to studying the Bible with his brother’s help. Their father was a Mullah in the local mosque and, of course, immediately disowned his sons.
Serik, one of Arman’s long time friends, came to Christ only 25 days ago. Listen to his story.
On camera: “I can tell about the change in my former life and my new life. I came to know just many, many things because I keep reading the Bible just daily … all day long … and I’m changing. I understand that I must know much, much more but I am very motivated to do that so this is kind of my thoughts. I think that I must just live and serve Christ my savior whatever he wants for me.”
Bolat learned English several years ago at the Taraz Theological Institute and served as our translator.
On camera: “I was born and raised in Taraz which is in southern Kazakhstan region. When I was about 25, I heard the Gospel from Swiss tourists. Actually, there was a festival organized by Southern Baptists so there was a good chance that I would hear the Gospel. I responded in a couple of months or so. In 1994, we started a Kazakh church; a small group which then became a church. So, in ’96, I was ordained by the Baptist Union and actually was the first Kazakh ordained pastor. Then I got more education at the Central Asian Leadership Training Center and in 2000, I moved to Almaty to start a training program in the Kazakh language. A couple years later, we started another church, Alpha and Omega Church. I’m kind of one of the pastors of the church.”
We are thankful for the faithfulness of these three but are told that there is much more indoors. Once inside the small room attached to Arman’s home, we are greeted with the opportunity to share around a table loaded with a king’s feast. More importantly, those present wanted us to know how God’s miracles have made a difference and changed their lives.
Awaiting us all is a variety of freshly prepared and tasty dishes of tomato-cucumber salad, sliced salami, cheese, bread, cookies, melon and tea called Chai. Prior to eating, we were introduced to the newest member who is only nine days old in the Lord. He is given the seat at the head of the table! This brings to mind the scripture that says there is rejoicing in the presence of God’s angels when one sinner repents.
After the introduction, Arman gives a short Bible lesson and devotion followed by more singing. The first song is one of praise and adoration.
You, Lord, are more valuable than gold.
You, Lord, are more valuable than anything.
You, Lord are my Shepherd.
Apart from You there is no Savior.
Apart from You I have no dream.
Apart from You I have no hope.
You are my God.
The time has come to find out more about God’s miracles among these believers.
Gulia came to know the Lord two to three months before her husband got very, very sick. She was told to be ready because he was going to die. Gulia prayed, “Lord, please help my husband to get better.”
Indira thanks God for what He is doing in her family. They have experienced miracles!
Koolash has been coming here for quite awhile. She expresses thanksgiving and praise for answered prayer in lives and families.
Rosa, Arman’s wife, tells us that before they were married 17 years ago a doctor told her that she had cancer with less than a year to live and would never have children. Later, … when she was in the hospital and near death, … Jesus came to her in a dream and told Rosa that she would be OK. She knew it was Jesus who had talked to her. As a child, she had heard about Him from a missionary. Today, Rosa and Arman have five children! She is healthy and shares an active part with Arman in their ministry. The miracles in her life are a testimony of God’s goodness.
As we are finishing the time together, Arman asks us to pray for his 70-year old mother who has gallstones and heart problems. He also tells us the good news about his father who was once a Mullah. He accepted Christ before he died. After asking his son for forgiveness for the 6-years of persecution he had imposed upon Arman for being a believer, he said, “The God who has changed my son is the living God. I believe in Jesus”.
In closing, we convey our thanks to all for their faithfulness to God and kindness to us.
On camera: “We are very, very happy to be with you tonight. You, each one, bless our lives and when we go home to America, we will see your faces in our minds and in our hearts and we will pray for each of you and your country. So, we say, “Thank You, God, for this group of believers and especially for this new brother”. That is so exciting, so exciting.
After our time together, Arman shared details about their ministry.
Presentation: (Arman showing Power Point)
We are called by God to promote and develop a movement of believing families, reaching out to other families for the purpose of building up the church in Central Asia and changing the world from home to home, thus, expanding the Kingdom of God.
As a Family Ministry team, we continue partnering with local churches by offering seminars on strengthening marriage such as God’s Perspective on Marriage, Relationships and Conflict Resolution. We continue with Homebuilders’ groups where theory is transferred into practice.
We pursue our vision of reaching Kazakhstan through Family ministry by establishing home churches. We are actively involved in discipling several families as future home church leaders. We also invest our time in developing youth groups and children’s ministries including doing sports activities.
God makes miracles! Picture of Family Our family motto is Joshua 24:15.
“… But as for me and my household,
we will serve the Lord.”
In conclusion, from Proverbs 21:31,
“The horse is made ready for the day of battle,
but the victory rests with the Lord.”
I am ready but the Lord is in control.
Please pray for Arman and Rosa as they continue sharing the Gospel, discipling the faithful, raising children, building families and multiplying home churches.
End – group at table -- Overlay:
I thank my God in all my remembrance of you. … Philippians 1:3
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