“I am a Christian because when the rest of the world turned its back on me, the church was there for me,” shares Sanzhar (name changed for safety), one of our current School Without Walls (SWW) students from Kazakhstan. Despite the danger of being an open Christian in Kazakhstan, Sanzhar refuses to stop sharing the Good News because, in his own words, “Now that I am saved, I cannot help but share this Good News with others. I must share God’s love with a dying world.”
It was a long and painful journey for Sanzhar to come to know Christ and join SWW. He was born to alcoholic parents, and he and his younger brother suffered a lot growing up. However, even though he had never been taught anything about God as a child, he found himself praying in his darkest and most difficult moments, and that brought him comfort and meaning. He shares how he was first introduced to the love of his Heavenly Father through the death of his earthly father:
“When I was growing up, my father drank heavily, which took its toll on his mind and health; he died in 2007 when I was 11. My mother started drinking even more after his death out of grief. My younger brother and I were heartbroken, and we wondered when it would all end. We started attending church as a way of escaping our problems at home.
“After a few months of attending church, our family was evicted from our apartment and moved in with a friend of our mother’s, who was also an alcoholic. Our mother belonged to a group of friends, most of whom had spent time in prison. They would drink together in the evenings and would frequently get in violent fights. Noticing that our home life was so terrible, the pastor of the church where we attended often invited my brother and me to do odd jobs for him at the church as a way of earning money and getting out of our house. As we spent more time working at the church, we felt so welcomed by the church community and became open to the gospel because we saw Christ’s love so clearly on display there.
“When my mother started experiencing health problems as a result of her heavy drinking and was no longer able to care for us, the church became our family. One day the principal of my school called me into his office to tell me my mother had died. I wanted to be angry at God, but my pastor encouraged me to remain strong in my faith. I was still struggling with anger at God for several months, and so my pastor encouraged me to attend a youth camp organized by Mission Eurasia. It was at the youth camp that I truly repented and re-dedicated my life to Christ.
“Now I am a SWW student, which is very helpful to me as a young believer,” shares Sanzhar. “SWW has helped me grow spiritually and dig deeper into God’s Word. From my own life experience, I know the importance of practical assistance as a way of changing hearts. I remember clearly how the rest of the world had turned their backs on us, yet the church helped us find housing, and provided opportunities for us earn money, which kept us fed. I know that without this practical help, we wouldn’t have been open to hearing the message of salvation. I am now passionate about caring for others in need, particularly children, and I am involved in children’s ministry and mentorship. I am grateful that Jesus led me to Himself and continues to lead me. I have no regrets about following Him, even though I have faced many challenges!”
To support the training and equipping of young Christian leaders like Sanzhar in Central Asia, where the Good News is spreading despite many challenges, please give to our School Without Walls program today: