The Impact of One Bible

“This is my father’s side of the family.” Samira* turned her phone to us to show a picture of a large Central Asian family. “It’s the birthday party of my grandmother. That’s her seated in the middle.”

Surrounding her grandmother is almost fifty other men, women, and children. Samira pointed out one young woman in the photo - her sister. Years ago, this sister had received a Bible of her own and had become a believer. Samira began to weep as she told us that her sister’s testimony had brought almost the entire family into a relationship with Christ – all because of one Bible.

The family’s Muslim background is normal in Central Asia. Converting to Christianity from Islam carries serious risks, including hostility from one’s own family. For people like Samira’s sister, the decision to share the gospel with family is not an easy one.

And yet the courage she showed continues to create ripple effects. Another Central Asian woman named Nailya* told us how she met Jesus. “As a little girl, I was searching for God. I started to pray the Muslim prayer ‘namas’ five times a day. This desire to know God, to know who He is, was in my heart from a very young age.”

Nailya’s marriage fell apart, partially due to her husband’s drug addiction. She was living with her parents, trying to care for her two sons, and she did not know where God was in her pain.

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But she began to consider something unthinkable. Nailya had heard of a woman and her husband in the village who had become Christians. “In my heart I hated them for betraying Islam, the true religion. That’s why I actually didn’t want to go. But in my heart, I felt I should.” And so Nailya paid a visit to the Christian woman in the village: Samira.

Samira and her husband shared the gospel with Nailya and began to consistently pray for her. Nailya came back to their home for regular meetings. “As a young girl I had prayed ‘Please God, show me the truth’. During one service, God said to me ‘I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life’. In that moment I understood that God answered the prayer I had been praying from my childhood.”

Suhrob*, Nailya’s husband, had been living away from his family when Nailya began to pray for him too. “One day,” he told us, “I felt a strange desire to go to my wife’s parents’ house and take her back. So I went.” The husband and wife were re-united, and Suhrob began to join Nailya at the house church meetings. He soon left his drug habit and gave his life to Christ.

After his own conversion, Suhrob began sharing the Gospel with the customers at his barbershop, and this is where the persecution began. When word got out about the couple’s Christian beliefs, their landlords kicked them out and they were forced to move. A cycle began – Suhrob and Nailya found a new place to live, began witnessing to their neighbours, and were forced to move again. In time, Nailya and Suhrob were forced to leave to an entirely new area.

Nine years later, they had settled. They had a job, good schooling for their children, and were hosting a church out of their home. But they had never forgotten the situation back in the village where they grew up. They worried for their former neighbours and friends, the same people who had driven them away years before.

The family made the decision to move back. For several years, the six of them lived in a room of four by six metres, seeking a way to share the Gospel. One day, during this time, Nailya sat down to pray with Samira – the same woman who had shared Jesus with her all the years before. Nailya told of her desire to use her home as a place of blessing for others in the same way that Samira had done for her. The two women prayed together that God would accomplish this.

Today, Suhrob and Nailya live in a house with a garden in the village where they grew up. “The persecution we experienced was difficult,” Nailya admits.  “There still is persecution, and pressure from the Islamic and secular authorities in the village. But now, because of our way of life, many people changed their attitude towards us.” People are willing to come to their home and hear of how Jesus changed their lives. Nailya jokes that they call their house a spiritual rehab centre. “All people who come to our home receive prayer support and wisdom from God. If they haven’t heard the gospel, they hear about Jesus and find salvation.”

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Nailya wanted to use her home as a blessing.

Back with the Open Doors team, Samira shut off her cell phone. She smiles as she thinks of the time her sister was given a Bible and made the decision to share her faith with the whole family. Through God’s grace and the prayers of the church, that decision has had beautiful results: all from just one person and just one Bible.

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