Central Asia: Accepting the Risk of Evangelism

From a stroll in the market to ministry work with the homeless, Timur uses every opportunity to share the gospel in his spiritually impoverished nation.

Falling for a Book

Timur grew up in a Muslim family, but when the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991, he began to question the validity of everything he had believed. “I was Muslim,” he said, “but I didn’t have faith. So I just prayed, ‘God, if You are, please open Yourself to me.’” 

Timur continued to pray for three years while searching for the Quran, which he found confusing and frustrating. Then one day, when he read a verse from Quran referring to the gospel, he became interested. 

Timur began to search for this gospel, and when he discovered the Bible, he began to read it. After months of research, he realized that Jesus was not only a prophet but also a son of God on the cross, and Dimur knelt down and promised to follow Jesus Christ. As his faith deepened, he not only helped lead two small churches, but also participated in the gospel and mercy ministry. 

Central Asia1

Feeding Hearts

Because of the great poverty in his country, Timur began ministering in prisons and nursing homes, along with his work feeding the homeless. He has found mercy ministries to be an effective way of meeting people’s physical as well as spiritual needs. 

Galina became a regular at the lunches, so when she missed several weeks in a row, Timur and others went looking for her. When they found her, they learned that years of alcohol abuse had left Galina so ill from cirrhosis that she could no longer stand. Her sister, who was caring for her, met Timur at the door. “She became a Christian,” the woman told him. “Please take her. She is no longer clean.” 

During one lunchtime sermon at the homeless ministry, a woman stood up and shouted, “I am Muslim! Don’t speak about Christ!” Timur and other volunteers later learned that the woman, Galina, lived with an abusive man with alcoholism. 

Galina’s illness had apparently prompted her to repent of her sins and place her faith in Christ; she welcomed the believers into her home. “We read the Bible, we prayed and we asked her to pray also,” Timur recalled. “Then we asked her if she was afraid, she would die.” Galina told the visitors she no longer feared death because she believed in Jesus. She died three days later. 

Central Asia2
Timur was confronted by security agents in a rural village. One official later threatened to stone him.

Confronted by State Security

As Timur has worked to help change the lives of many, like Galina, he has experienced hardship for proclaiming the gospel. A few years ago, he and a team from the church traveled to a community to provide medical care, and they gave a New Testament to every person they treated. While working in the community, officials from the state security police (formerly KGB) visited their office one morning and arrested everyone. Authorities confiscated their passports, phones and Christian materials such as books and DVDs. The team was detained and interrogated for three days before being fined and forced to leave the area.  

Last year, Timur returned to the community where he was arrested and, while visiting the local market, ran into the official who had previously arrested him. The man told Timur that if he wants to keep preaching about Jesus, he should stay in the capital city or, even better, move to Russia. continued to preach in the town, he would personally gather some locals to stone Timur. “Dying for Jesus would be a privilege for me,” Timur replied boldly. The official shouted curses at him for a while, but eventually left. 

At age 72, Timur continues his evangelistic work. Although the church where he serves has experienced increasing pressure from the government in recent years, Timur is unmoved. “I have counted the risk,” he said, “and deemed it worth it for the sake of the gospel.” 

As he stands before the lunchtime crowd in the church courtyard preparing to open the book that changed his life, he willingly accepts the risk involved. 

Timur knows that sharing about Jesus Christ, who redeemed him by suffering death on a cross and rising from the grave, is worth any cost.