Stories from the Silk Road

22 Sep, 2017 | Central Asia
Nicole James
Traffic flows on a wide tree-lined city street in Central Asia.
OM’s annual Central Asian outreach seeks to reach every city in the region with the gospel. It follows the same format as many of OM’s short-term programmes around the world: centralised training followed by outreach to surrounding countries. Teams of two to four participants travel to do outreach throughout the region for 10 days. Past participants share their stories below.

Nastya*, who participated in the Central Asian outreach six times, said one particular trip stood out. In a small village, she and her team had ordered food and then started talking to the owner of the building. Initially, she wanted to know more about Nastya’s home country and the team members, and “it ended up by [us] telling her about God.”

The team prayed for the woman. Afterwards, she started crying. “Can you come to my home? My brother is sick, and he can’t even move.”

“Yes, we will pray for him,” the team agreed.

As they followed the woman to her house, though, they were worried. “What if we pray and nothing happens?” they wondered.

Upon arrival, they prayed as a team, “God, it’s not us who will do a miracle. We don’t want to promise to these people that something will happen.”

Inside the building all of the relatives stood around the sick brother’s bedside. The young team introduced themselves to the oldest relatives first, then they addressed the woman’s brother. “We can’t do anything for you; we can’t promise anything will happen, but we do believe we have an almighty God, and, if He wills, you will be [healed]. If you want, we can pray for you.”

The man and his family agreed to prayer, so the team sat down, grabbed each other’s hands and prayed in the name of Jesus. Half an hour later, the man in the bed sat up. A couple hours later, he asked for food.

“God you did it!” the team exclaimed.

Just before the team left the house, the man who was sick came out to their car. “I praise God to whom you prayed,” he told them.

Growing in faith

Dana*, who participated in the Central Asian outreach twice, remembered her first outreach as challenging and inspiring. She had travelled with her team to an especially conservative area where they knew of one family who were believers. Because of their isolation, “this family was struggling, and it was so difficult with their faith,” Dana recalled.

The team visited the family in the middle of the night, sitting together for five hours, encouraging the believers but “afraid the police would come,” Dana said. “It was very difficult for them, but they were trying to do so many things for the Lord.

“It was such an encouragement to me because here [in my country] we live in freedom, and sometimes we don’t appreciate that,” Dana stated. “I’m a believer, and some of my relatives are Muslim, but it’s OK; nobody is against us.”

One year later, Dana signed up for a second outreach. “I grew and I learned a lot from the first [experience], so I decided it’s a really good thing and I needed to go back.”

She had struggled with her team the first year, but Dana instantly connected with the other young people in her group on the second outreach. “In the evening time, we could go to a park and worship in our native languages. And people were coming and asking, ‘What are you doing?’ And we had the opportunity to share the gospel.”

Participating in the Central Asian outreach doesn’t have to be a one-time experience, Dana explained. “It’s always something new, and this year it won’t be like last year or next year…. You are meeting with different people. You’ll be able to serve other countries.”

“Just come and do whatever God wants you to do,” she encouraged. “It’s also about obeying, it’s also about patience. You can learn how to serve God, how to build teams and how to communicate with other people.

“I am smiling every time I think about it. It helps you to grow.”

Amazing challenge

When Baha* wanted to join the OM Ships Ministry, his last requirement was participating in the Central Asian outreach. At the beginning of the outreach, Baha’s four-person team went to a nearby bus station, where they booked an eight-hour taxi ride to their destination.

In the middle of the night, Baha woke up in the back of the taxi and heard his team leader praying out loud in the front. Alarmed, Baha then realised the taxi driver was repeating the words. “It was the prayer of salvation. This driver got saved!” he remembered.

At that time, Baha was still exploring Christianity. “I just believed in God. I didn’t know Jesus,” Baha shared. “I never read the Bible at home…. On Fridays, I went to the mosque; on Sunday, I went to church; at night, I was out on the streets.”

Therefore, he said the concept of evangelism terrified him. “I have to talk about God, but I don’t even know Him,” he thought.

Still, the outreach challenged Baha to grow closer to God. In one village, a family of six hosted the team in a small, sparsely furnished house. At night, the family gave up their beds to the team, while they slept on the floor.

“If they did this for us, what did Jesus do for us?” Baha wondered.

During the outreach, Baha also prayed for the first time in his life. “The preparation is good,” he said. “This challenge—going into other countries for 12 days—is amazing.”

*Name changed

Nicole James is a writer for OM International, passionate about publishing stories of God’s work among the nations and telling people about the wonderful things He is doing around the world.

Credit: Nicole James · © 2017 OM International This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


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