Here is a great story from our partners in Central Asia to start out the New Year.
It’s one of the most remote places of Tajikistan, down in the South, right at the border with Afghanistan. No one actually would choose to live here. Unbearable heat in the summer, 122 Fahrenheit is the normal.
The Arab settlements of this region are like leftovers from ancient times, with historic Nestorian (early Christianity) monasteries. The world has forgotten them, as well as the 1,500 people living here.
There is no church and no group of believers. And yet, we took the long drive from the capital city of Dushanbe to the settlement of Ayvadsh, because God had clearly told us to go – through a man called Iskander, who had shown up at our church in Dushanbe one day…
Iskander did not cease inviting us to visit him in his home village in the very South of Tajikistan. He almost insisted. So we went. Our group of brothers from the Dushanbe church became part of the story God was writing with the forgotten Arabs in Tajikistan. But God had never forgotten them! He had opened the doors through Iskander. We met Iskander’s wife, mother and children. All of them were extremely grateful to listen as we shared about Christ. But this was just the beginning of a greater story…
For our visit to Iskander in September 2020, he had invited 10 of his relatives and friends, and we shared the Gospel with them. All of them were listening with great attention and asking questions. Right there, his mother prayed the prayer of repentance. Iskander said: “I want my house to become a House of Prayer for all nations!”
We also met Chalil. Iskander said: “I assume he is a believer too, because I heard him arguing about Christ with the local Mullahs.” Chalil told us that he indeed is a believer in Jesus Christ. He had come to faith by watching Christian TV programs in the Iranian language. Having become a believer, he thought there were no other Christians around him, and so he baptized himself, then he baptized his wife. It turned out that, although both Iskander and Chalil lived in the same settlement, they did not know of each other’s search for Christ.
Chalil did not even have a Bible. We brought one and gave it to him as a gift. He took it with hands trembling with reverence, holding it tight, thanking us over and over again.
There are 2 families meeting today and a few more people who are interested in the Gospel, all together 8 adults and about 10 kids. A brother from the Dushanbe church is visiting them every month. And each time, they can’t wait for him to come and serve them.
Iskander made a room in his house available for the meetings of the group. It’s the only Prayer Room in the entire area. But it’s also the first one – the beginning of God’s story with Iskander and all the other Arabs in the South of Tajikistan.