Alima is a young Christian professional in Kyrgyzstan who teaches math to primarily Muslim students. After attending one of Mission Eurasia’s Next Generation Professional Leader’s Initiatives (NGPLI) forums in Bishkek, Alima was encouraged and filled with new conviction and ideas for sharing the gospel through her profession. She shared her story with us:
“I am a math teacher at a Christian school in Kyrgyzstan. I’ve always had a penchant for numbers, and when I had to choose between working as an accountant or a math teacher, I chose to be a teacher because I wanted to be able to connect with students. Moreover, I believe that, as a Christian, my calling is to work professionally while also building relationships with people so I can share my faith.
“I am a second generation teacher, as my mother was also a teacher. My father worked in technology and was considered a master of his craft. From my parents I learned the value of working hard, and from the Bible I learned that my work should glorify Christ. The intellectual environment that I work in has a huge need for the gospel, and the best way to respond to this need is by talking with people. God has entrusted me with my profession, and I believe that this profession is also my ministry. It is a great responsibility to share the truth of the gospel with others.
“The NGPLI forum in Bishkek touched me deeply, and I was freed from the guilt I used to feel because I didn’t think I could serve God through my job. It also helped me understand that work is an opportunity for ministry, and along with working hard, I also need to stand by my values, even if it’s detrimental to me professionally. My colleagues recognize me as a disciple of Christ, not because they see me at church (they don’t attend), but because of my work ethic and compassionate interactions with them. The NGPLI forum also helped to further establish my belief that my main focus should be people, because God has given them great value.
“The children at my school are from Muslim families; therefore I try to be a blessing whenever I talk with my students and their parents. The parents trust me, because they know I want to provide quality education, and because they trust me as an educator, they are also more likely to trust what I say about God. For me, it’s important that I have a mentor to inspire my work, so I always think about how Jesus would teach. We young Christian professionals have a great responsibility to work well in the midst of a system where people want to work less and receive more. I don’t work like this, because I believe that I am working for the Lord, and I hope this serves as an example for others.
“During the Soviet era, it was almost impossible for believers to pursue higher education and work in influential professions. Moreover, many people were afraid of evangelical churches, because they considered them to be sects. But today, much has changed, and sometimes people come to my church and sit through the service just so they can talk with lawyers who attend the church. I have even heard stories of people repenting after hearing the gospel while they were waiting during the service! This is a perfect example of how professionals add prestige to a community, and the Church is no longer afraid, because they know there are influential Christians in our society. And this is also an example of how we are called to bring the gospel to our nation through our professions.”
Even though Christians in Uzbekistan often suffer religious persecution at the hands of local authorities, the School Without Walls (SWW) coordinator in the capital city of Tashkent, and a group of SWW graduates, organized a round table discussion on the Next Generation Professional Leaders Initiative (NGPLI) for 35 young professionals from four different churches. The lack of religious freedom in Uzbekistan makes NGPLI even more relevant in that context, as traditional means of sharing the Gospel are very risky.
“I’m prepared to go out of my way to help my clients resolve problems with our product. I do my work well and respect my clients. They see this and value it,” shared Shahrat,* a Christian businessman who spoke about the impact his faith has had in his professional context. “I never hide my faith, and my good relationship with my clients allows me to share the Gospel with them. I’ve seen many people change, and three have already accepted Jesus and been baptized as a result of me sharing the Gospel with them!”
Sukhrob* is a SWW graduate from Uzbekistan who attended the round table and shared how his SWW training prepared him to share his faith through his work, even in difficult circumstances: “SWW helped me see how my faith can impact my community. When I finished my bachelor’s degree in education, I was the only one in my graduating class who decided to go teach in a small remote town. I knew that there was a desperate need for teachers in the region, and children often end up spending all day outside as there is no one to teach them. I decided to go to this poor, rural area to teach those children.
“Everyday life in this region is very difficult, and it isn’t easy to teach children who often work in the fields and aren’t used to learning. However, I see this as my mission, and I take every opportunity to not only pass on knowledge to my students, but to also teach them about the Creator. I also build relationships with the parents. In small towns everyone knows everyone else, and teachers have a position of respect in the community. I don’t think that I would have had such amazing opportunities for sharing the Gospel in any other situation anywhere else in the country! Two of my fellow SWW graduates helped raise money to dig a well, which was a huge need in my town, and together we have been able to earn the people’s trust and tell them about God. Over time a small group of believers has formed, the only such group for hundreds of kilometers! We work together, support each other, and serve Christ together!”
If you would like to support other School Without Walls students and graduates like Sukhrob, who are finding creative and effective ways to share their faith at great personal risk and despite difficult circumstances, you can give to our Next Generation Christian Leaders Initiative here:
“Evangelical churches in our country are not very numerous, but we aspire to impact our society and we are grateful to School without Walls for their help in this,” shared Arash*, a national School Without Walls (SWW) coordinator for Tajikistan, speaking to 80 young Next Generation Christian leaders at a Next Generation Professional Leaders Initiative (NGPLI) conference last week.
Tajikistan is over 90% Muslim, and Christians who openly share their faith risk persecution from their families, in the educational system, and from employers. Therefore, the goal of the conference was to pass on a vision of influential Christianity to these young Tajik Christians and to inspire and teach them how to be witnesses for Christ and transform their society through treating their workplace as a mission field.
Bahram*, a university student, shared how the conference’s message impacted him: “It’s not easy being a Christian in our country. Many people tell me that I’ve betrayed the faith of our ancestors. It’s difficult to find work in Tajikistan, and a majority of men find that they must travel to Russia to find jobs to support themselves and their families. But I don’t want to leave – I love my country, and I want to serve Christ here! This conference has helped me understand how I can do that. I was inspired by the vision of sharing Christ in the workplace. I believe that God will help me find a job in Tajikistan which will allow me to be a witness for Him among my future coworkers!”
The conference served as a follow-up to the first NGPLI Forum in Central Asia, which brought together 500 participants from around the region in Kyrgyzstan in November 2016. It is important for Christians in these countries, where openly evangelistic events are not allowed and believers face heavy restrictions on their activities, to gather together to encourage and learn from one another in their efforts to influence their communities for Christ.
Kamran* is a high school teacher and youth ministry leader, as well as a local SWW coordinator. “I brought 14 high school and university students from my town to this conference,” he shares. “It’s important for them to see other believers and to hear that they are called by Christ to have strong faith as leaders. They are all first generation Christians, and many are experiencing persecution in their families, but SWW and this NGPLI conference are helping lay the foundation in them for powerful, committed Christian life and ministry. I will continue to mentor and disciple them and help them grow in this after the conference.”
Thank you for your faithful prayers and support, which enable us to invest in young Next Generation Christian leaders who will in turn transform their society with the Gospel!
*name has been changed
- Praise God for the thousands of children in Eurasia who received Gifts of Hope during the Christmas season! Please pray that God would be at work in their hearts so that they may come to know Christ.
- Pray for an upcoming Next Generation Professional Leaders Initiative (NGPLI) conference that will take place in Belarus this month.
- Pray for young people in Tolyatti, Russia who are going to church, but don’t yet know God, and that our ministry efforts would bear fruit in their lives.
- Pray for our School Without Walls (SWW) leaders in Israel, as they are planning to start a new SWW group in the Czech Republic.
- Please pray for the regional coordinator of God’s Family Church in Minsk, Belarus as she leads ministry efforts, while also helping her daughters prepare for college.
- Praise God for providing resources and ministry opportunities in Russia, even in the midst of escalating religious persecution!
- Pray for our ministry team in Ukraine as they continue using our “I Care” Refugee Assistance Program to distribute humanitarian aid to internally displaced people and those who remain trapped in the war zone.
- Pray for our SWW students in Pinsk, Belarus as they partner with Christian student groups to prepare special evangelistic events at a local university in honor of the 500th anniversary of an edition of Psalms that was published by Francysk Skaryna in the Belarusian language.
- Please pray for our ministry workers and missionary partners who are dedicated to sharing the gospel with the unreached throughout Russia’s North Caucasus.
- Pray for our team in Ukraine as they meet with the leaders of professional networks in Kazakhstan, Moldova, and Russia.
- Pray for safety for some of our SWW students in Uzbekistan, as they are experiencing challenges with local authorities.
- Praise God for an English study group in Pinsk, Belarus, through which Church Without Walls (CWW) is teaching English lessons using Bible passages! Please pray that God would be at work in the students’ hearts so they may come to know Christ.
- Pray that God would grant wisdom to Vyacheslav, our SWW coordinator in Yekaterinburg, Russia, as he develops new ministry initiatives.
- Please pray that SWW students in Armenia would continue growing spiritually and sharing the gospel with their neighbors.
- Pray that young Christians in Saratov, Russia would actively participate in ministry efforts in their community.
- Pray for our plans to publish several ministry resources for young Christian professionals throughout Eurasia.
- Please pray for CWW in Pinsk, Belarus, as the church leaders are still trying to register with local authorities, construct their own building, and expand their small group ministry.
- Pray for our SWW students in Moldova as they organize and host a youth conference this month to encourage about 300 young people to share the gospel with their families, friends, and neighbors.
- Praise God for our ministry center in Vladikavkaz, Russia, through which we are expanding our ministry efforts, including church planting, in this volatile region!
- Pray that God would provide resources for CWW in Pinsk, Belarus, and that He would embolden working professionals who attend the church to share the gospel in their workplaces.
- Please pray for SWW students in Yekaterinburg, Russia as they begin their internships at local churches.
- Pray for Denis, our NGPLI director, as he develops and expands this strategic ministry throughout Eurasia.
- Pray for our SWW coordinators in Russia as they expand our ministry efforts in the North Caucasus and the Transcaucasia region.
- Praise God for our ministry leaders who are faithfully serving in Central Asia, despite the challenges they face!
- Please pray for our ministry team in Ukraine as they lead an NGPLI conference in Minsk, Belarus today.
- Pray for Georgiy, one of our SWW leaders in Vladikavkaz, Russia, as he is trying to obtain Russian citizenship.
- Pray that God would provide a new leader for the youth ministry at God’s Family Church in Minsk, Belarus.
- Please pray that God would grow the children’s ministry at Spiritual Renewal Church in Vladikavkaz, Russia.
A recent School Without Walls (SWW) seminar in Kyrgyzstan focused on helping students respond to the unique challenges they face in their country following a recent incident. After a 76-year-old Christian woman passed away, Muslim leaders wouldn’t allow her to be buried in the local cemetery due to her faith, so her family had to dig up her body and bury her in a different village. However, the people in this village also didn’t want her to be buried in their cemetery, so her body was unearthed again and moved to a cemetery at a Russian Orthodox Church. Yet again, this burial was also not approved, so without informing her relatives, her body was dug up for a third time and taken to an unknown location.
There have been many instances like this, but this particular case has gotten a lot of publicity among Christians, and throughout Kyrgyz society as a whole. Many churches are now uniting in prayer, fasting, and taking action by appealing to local authorities and the media. This case even went beyond Kyrgyzstan’s border, as many international organizations have expressed their disapproval of these acts. However, despite the very negative reaction to this incident, public attitudes towards Christians have not improved.
This case helped local leaders to develop the main question for this special SWW seminar: “How can I, as a Christian, help transform my country and the people who live here?” The students focused on Jesus as the ultimate example. He excelled in all aspects of life: intellectually, physically, socially, and, of course, spiritually. He could speak on any subject, not just spiritual topics. He was well versed in agriculture, business, fishing, and family matters. “Like Him, Christians should also be well-versed in the various aspects of modern life,” shares the SWW coordinator who organized the seminar. “If we only focus on spiritual development and ignore all other areas of life, then we won’t be able to connect with people outside the church. Along with pastors, our country also needs Christian businessmen, doctors, lawyers, teachers, etc.” This is the primary motivation behind the Next Generation Professional Leaders Initiative, which helps motivate and equip young Christian professionals to share their faith in the workplace.
“I realized that I need to grow,” Alyona, one of our SWW students, shared regarding the seminar, “not just spiritually, but also in other areas of life, so that people will be comfortable talking with me.” As a result of the seminar, some of the SWW students expressed a desire to study the Koran in order to more effectively share the gospel with Muslims. Christina, one of these students, can speak several languages, and recently she started teaching language classes for non-Christian children at her church!
Please pray for these students as they seek to put what they learned into practice and find creative ways to reach their communities with the gospel!
- Please pray for our School Without Walls (SWW) students as they continue distributing Gifts of Hope to children in several different countries in Eurasia this month.
- Pray for our SWW coordinator in Uzbekistan, as he was recently fined for doing ministry work and is experiencing some personal health issues.
- Praise God for SWW training events and social outreach projects that are taking place in Vladivostok, Russia on January 3-6!
- Pray for a new Christian school that will be launching in Haifa, Israel this month.
- Please pray for several families that attend Reconciliation Church in Bobruisk, Belarus who are experiencing health problems and financial difficulty.
- Pray for our SWW students and teachers in Perm, Russia, particularly a group that recently launched in the city of Chaykovsky.
- Pray that God would strengthen Edgar, Robert, and Vaye, three Christian policemen in Armenia, who may lose their jobs for attending church.
- Praise God that SWW is growing in Russia’s North Caucasus, and that our ministry partners in the region remain committed to expanding this program so that even more young people may come to know Christ through home Bible study groups, training seminars, and more!
- Please continue praying for Church Without Walls (CWW) in Pinsk, Belarus, as they are still trying to register with local authorities.
- Pray that God would bring about an end to the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine so that this hurting nation can start to heal and Ukraine and Russia can be reconciled.
- Pray for our SWW and church-planting efforts in Russia’s North Caucasus as we expand our ministry to share the gospel with even more unreached people in this volatile region.
- Please pray for Eduard, our SWW coordinator in Moldova, as he and his wife are looking for a new place to live.
- Pray for two new ministry projects in Omsk, Russia: the translation of the gospel into the Siberian Tatar language and the restoration of a Christian center in Tara.
- Praise God for an evangelistic youth outreach event that is taking place in Armenia today!
- Pray for ongoing discipleship at CWW in Pinsk, Belarus, especially as several people recently accepted Christ and are now looking for ways to grow in their faith.
- Please pray for our SWW leaders in Vladivostok, Russia as they continue expanding SWW and youth outreach projects, while also looking for a new ministry building.
- Pray for the children’s ministry center that Eduard, our SWW coordinator in Moldova, and his wife started, as many of the children’s parents are Orthodox and don’t want their children attending the center.
- Pray for Valeriy, our SWW coordinator in Krasnodar, Russia, and his family, as he is dealing with health issues and looking for another job, all while continuing to develop training events for SWW students and other young leaders.
- Praise God that many of our containers of humanitarian aid for Ukraine have cleared customs! Please also pray that the remaining containers would clear quickly so we can continue bringing humanitarian aid to those who are suffering.
- Pray for Yevgeniy, our SWW coordinator in Vladivostok, Russia, and his son, who is applying to seminary in Moscow.
- Please pray for an upcoming regional church conference in Brest, Belarus that CWW is helping to organize.
- Continue praying for Georgiy, one of our SWW teachers in Vladikavkaz, Russia, as he is still dealing with issues related to a car accident he was in last year.
- Pray for our SWW leaders and ministry partners as they seek to develop and lead new ministry initiatives, while also making enough time for their families.
- Praise God that School #31 and Agrarian University in Vladikavkaz, Russia are now allowing SWW students to host preventative lectures for students! Please pray that more schools would follow their example.
- Please pray for Reconciliation Church in Bobruisk, Belarus, as they are still trying to register their building with local authorities.
- Continue praying for our brothers and sisters in Russia as they continue sharing the gospel, even in the midst of growing religious persecution.
- Pray for new SWW students in Armenia, particularly an evangelical music group that is holding concerts in Armenia and Georgia.
- Praise God for a group of SWW students in Krasnodar, Russia that wants to plant a new church in their city!
- Please pray that God would keep Vyacheslav, our SWW coordinator in Yekaterinburg, Russia, and his family healthy.
- Pray for a Next Generation Professional Leaders Initiative conference that will take place in Belarus next month.
- Pray that SWW students in Omsk, Russia would continue to grow spiritually and fearlessly share their faith during a weeklong mission trip to the Tatar people group in February.
There has never been a more urgent time to train and equip young Christian leaders in Eurasia to share the gospel effectively in the midst of challenges and difficulties. The only way to fight the current spiritual darkness of Eurasia is by raising up strong young Christian leaders who can shape their culture and influence their nations for Christ.
Funding is still needed before the end of the year to provide School Without Walls (SWW) training seminars and Next Generation Professional Leadership forums. Please give today to equip and encourage young leaders to be more effective witnesses for Christ.
Your gift will equip young leaders like Rashid from Azerbaijan:
“I have been a Christian for quite a long time,” shares Rashid. “However, it isn’t always easy to share my beliefs with others, and I used to wonder if it was possible to share my faith in a way that people could understand, while also showing that I don’t have anything against them. After attending the SWW event in Shirvan, Azerbaijan in October, I realized all of the daily opportunities I have to serve those in need and share in their sufferings. I decided to start small by finding one person that I could serve and share Christ’s love with daily.
“At the same time, I was also looking for a job, and after praying about it, I was invited to work on a construction site. I rode to the site with several of my coworkers, and so I started talking to the guy sitting next to me. He shared about the challenges he was facing, and it soon became clear that he had heard about Christ and read the gospel before, but he wasn’t currently pursuing faith. Now, he was overwhelmed with misfortune. He had crashed his car, which left his wife in the hospital where she had to receive very expensive treatment. He was also sent to prison in Ganja, and since the conditions there are so bad, the prisoners are sent to work, but they have to give part of their monthly earnings to the prison. At first, I wondered if I really needed to help him, but then I remembered the SWW session, and I realized that God was giving me an opportunity to help this man.
“Not long after, I invited him to work on a project with me, which I knew was risky, because if there had only been enough work for one person, then I would have needed to let him take the project. Thankfully, there was plenty of work for both of us, and we were able to get a lot done very quickly. Now, my friend has already earned enough to cover two months of his prison fee and buy some new clothes! He is also coming to my home Bible study group with me! He hopes to build a new life for his family, and I am very thankful that, using what I learned at the SWW session, I was able to help him take a step toward God. This is what I’ve always wanted to do ever since I became a Christian!”
Please give today to support and training and equipping of Next Generation leaders like Rashid who are faithfully bringing the gospel to their nations. Tax-deductible gifts for 2016 can be made on our website until 11:59 PM Central Time on December 31, 2016.
“When I first started working, I had to choose whether to be an accountant or a teacher, and I chose to be a teacher, because I wanted to impact young people’s lives,” shares Nargiza, a math teacher from Kyrgyzstan who attended our Next Generation Professional Leaders Initiative Forum in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan in November. “My parents were also teachers, and my father was considered a master at his craft. From them, I learned the value of hard work, and from the Bible, I learned that my work should be glorifying to God. There is a great need for the gospel in the intellectual environment that I work in, and the best way to respond to this need is by talking with people. God has entrusted me with my students, and I believe He has called me to use my job for ministry, which is a great responsibility.
“The forum in Bishkek really touched my heart. I no longer feel guilty that I’m not doing enough to serve God and I feel much more prepared for ministry. I was reminded that my profession is also my ministry field and I am called to serve God, even at the expense of my job. My colleagues should know that I’m a disciple of Christ, not just at church, but also at work. The forum also helped me understand that I need to value the people to whom God is sending me. I made so many great contacts at this event, which is very important, because there aren’t many Christian professionals in Kyrgyzstan, so we need to stick together.
“Some of my students are from Muslim families, so I want to do my best to be a blessing to them. Because their parents trust me as a professional educator, they are also starting to trust what I say about God. For me, the most helpful thing is that I regularly meet with a pastor who mentors me, and I feel like it is Jesus Himself who is teaching me. We Christian professionals have a great responsibility to work hard and treat our coworkers well. I don’t just work to live; I work for the Lord, and I hope this idea becomes a model for others.
“During the Soviet era, it was very difficult for Christians to pursue higher education, which meant they couldn’t enter influential professions. Furthermore, many people were afraid of evangelical churches, because they believed that they were ‘sects.’ But today, things are changing. For example, people sometimes come to my church to ask for legal advice from the lawyers in our congregation, because they trust them more than non-Christian lawyers. They sometimes even wait until the services are over before talking with the lawyers, which means that they hear the gospel being preached. This is an excellent example of how our society’s view of the Church is changing, and why it is so important that we continue working to positively impact our nation.”
Help us train and equip as many young Christian professionals like Nargiza as we can—so that they can shine the light of Christ in their spheres of professional influence!