Central Asia: Anastasia’s Church Ministry

CENTRAL ASIA — Anastasia* who came to Christ 20 years ago is a house church leader living in Central Asia. Authorities told her they thought she was retired, but she still teaches six times a week and preaches on Sundays! His passion for the gospel is contagious.

In this Open Doors report, Anastasia, who had her own sewing business, describes how God called her to the ministry of the church ministering to her clients.

Anastasia*, Open house worker:

“It all started when I moved to a small village near the city and asked God:
“’What should I do here because I don’t know anyone?’ God told me to do what I can with my hands. What he said exactly was, “Do what you can do!”
And then I opened my tailor shop, because that’s what I knew how to do. People started coming. And while I was serving them as a tailor, they would tell me about their troubles in life. And I offered them a prayer to pray for their troubles. So we prayed.

“I asked if they wanted to know more about God and what he wanted to tell them about himself. And those who really wanted to know God began to learn the Bible. They started gathering at my workplace in the evening. Then we had more and more people.

“So later, we rented a bigger room, a room. The church was formed because of people’s need to know God. Later, the church I had attended in the city decided that I would do pastoral ministry. So after two years of ministry, I was ordained a pastor because I had about 60 people in my group at the time. This is how our group became a church.

Anastasia exercises her ministry in a difficult environment: she has been watched by the secret police and threatened because of her faith. Central Asian Christians often face oppression from the authorities and opposition within their own families.

“In the past 10 years, there are about 10 pastors who left the country with their families and went to live abroad to escape persecution. These days, authorities are using quarantine measures to prevent people from gathering. Many churches in our country have been fined for violating quarantine measures, even though at the same time markets and shopping malls are open for visitation.

“But for the church there are special rules. There is also a type of oppression that people face within the family. In our church we have women who are beaten by their husbands because of their belief in Christ. Of Asian origin, these women are expected and forced by their relatives to turn to Islam. So we certainly face a lot of oppression, but God gives us the strength to endure and overcome it.

In 2019, the Secret Service told Anastasia they believed she was retired and no longer a threat to society. But she continues to serve God with passion, energy and courage.

“My husband and I continue our pastoral ministry. I have the gift of a pastor/teacher, so I teach six times a week, preach on Sundays, teach children’s leaders, write children’s workbooks with Bible stories, I serve women and write parenting courses for them.

“During quarantine, we are maintaining our services through Zoom. I worked on teaching everyone, especially older people, how to use the Zoom app. Praise God that we can organize our services online. The fact that some family members who did not go to church are now listening to the sermons is particularly gratifying, because they are staying at home with their whole family. God comes to every house with his Sunday sermon

*Name changed for security reasons.

Read more news about Christian persecution, Christian ministry and world missions.

About Open Doors UK

Open Doors is a non-denominational mission that supports persecuted Christians in over 70 countries where Christianity is socially or legally discouraged or oppressed. In their work, they provide vital support, training and resources to people facing persecution or discrimination.

The resources they provide include the distribution of Bibles and literature, the organization of leadership trainings, assistance with socio-economic development and intercessory prayer. They also help victims of violence and disaster, including widows and orphans, with practical support such as relief, livelihood support and community development projects.

Their vision is of a world in which every persecuted Christian is remembered and supported by other Christians. They pray for a world where there is no persecution.

Charles K. Eckert