CENTRAL ASIA — Anastasia* who came to Christ 20 years ago is a house church leader living in Central Asia. The authorities told her they thought she was retired, but she still teaches six times a week and preaches on Sundays! Her passion for the gospel is infectious.
In this Open Doors report Anastasia, who had her own tailoring business, describes how God called her to church ministry through ministering to her customers.
Anastasia*, Open Doors Worker:
“It all started when I moved to a small village near the city and asked God:
“‘What should I do here because I don’t know anyone?’ God told me to do what I can with my hands. What he said exactly was: ‘Do what you can do!’
And then I opened my tailors’ shop, because that’s what I could do. People started coming. And while I served them as a tailor they would tell me about their troubles in life. And I offered them a prayer to pray for their problems. So we prayed.
“I asked if they wanted to know more about God and what He wants to tell them about Himself. And those who really wanted to know God started learning the Bible. They started gathering at my workplace in the evenings. Then we had more and more people come.
“So later we rented a bigger place, a hall. The church was formed because of people’s need to know God. Later the church I’d been a part of in the city decided that I was doing pastoral ministry. So after two years of ministry I was ordained as a pastor since I had around 60 people in my group at the time. That’s how our group grew into a church.”
Anastasia ministers in a challenging environment: she has been monitored by the secret police and threatened because of her faith. Christians in Central Asia often face oppression from the authorities and opposition from within their own families.
“In the last 10 years, there are around 10 pastors who have left the country with their families and gone to live abroad to escape persecution. These days the authorities use quarantine measures to stop people from gathering. There are many churches in our country that have been fined for breaking quarantine measures, even though at the same time markets and shopping malls are open for visiting.
“But for the church there are special rules. There is also a type of oppression people face within the family. In our church we have women who are beaten up by their husbands because of their belief in Christ. Coming from an Asian background these women are expected and forced by their relatives to turn to Islam. So we definitely face a lot of oppression but God gives us the strength to endure and overcome it.”
In 2019 the secret service told Anastasia that they thought she was retired and no longer posed a threat to society. But she keeps on serving God with passion, energy and courage.
“My husband and I continue our pastoral ministry. I have the gift of a pastor/teacher, so I teach six times a week, preach on Sundays, teach children’s leaders, write workbooks for children with Bible stories, serve women and write parenting courses for them.
“During the quarantine, we hold our services through Zoom. I worked on teaching everyone, especially the older people, how to use the Zoom application. Praise God that we can hold our services online. Especially rewarding is the fact that some family members who did not attend church now listen to the sermons, because they stay at home with their whole family. God comes to each house with His Sunday sermon
*Name changed for security reasons.
About Open Doors UK
Open Doors is a non-denominational mission that supports persecuted Christians in over 70 countries where Christianity is socially or legally discouraged or oppressed. In their work, they provide vital support, training, and resources to those facing persecution or discrimination.
Resources that they provide include distributing Bibles and literature, running leadership training, assisting with socio-economic development and intercessory prayer. They also help victims of violence and disaster, including widows and orphans, with practical support such as relief aid, livelihood support, and community development projects.
Their vision is of a world in which every Christian who is persecuted is remembered and supported by other Christians. They pray for a world where there is no persecution.
Source: Global News Alliance, Central Asia: Anastasia’s Church Ministry