Stories from the Field

First in Her Family

As a girl growing up in a nominal Muslim family in Central Asia, Madina* never heard about Jesus. She wasn’t introduced to the good news of Christ until 1995, when her parents sent her to study at a college in the capital city.

But when a neighbor, a former Muslim, shared the gospel with her, Madina was enraged by the message she considered heresy. “This lead me to search Islam more so that I could prove that these people who ‘sold’ their religion were wrong,” she recalls.

Madina started practicing Islam more fervently, trying to pray five times a day, observing the prescribed times of fasting and keeping most of her body covered. But, her efforts didn’t bring her peace, and she knew she couldn’t appease God. “After 2½ years of trying to live a righteous life, I realized how empty and sinful I still was; but now I was a hypocrite on top of it!” With dread she decided to cease practicing Islam. “This meant only one thing for me: Now I knew for sure that I was going to hell. And this led to depression and real fear of Allah and his judgment that I truly deserved.”

A couple years later, Madina began working at an English center run by a small group of Americans and was struck by the joy continually displayed in her coworkers’ lives. “These people were happy and had light about them,” she shares. “At first it angered me because I didn’t believe genuine joy existed. But the longer I worked with them, the more I came to believe that they were people of true light, joy and peace.”

When Madina shared with a coworker about her fears of dying and facing judgement, her coworker immediately gave her a Bible. She started reading God’s Word and slowly, her understanding of and belief in the book’s message began to grow. “After a year or so I could no longer call myself a Muslim but a follower of Isa (Jesus).”

Madina’s salvation was the first chapter in a story of redemption in her family. “Jesus chose me, the first in my family,” Madina shares. She’s been blessed to see several of her nine siblings come to Christ as she’s lived out her faith in a place where few know Him. “A year later one of my sisters became a believer. Two years later two more sisters joined. Three years later my mother became a believer and a passionate one. Later, another sister and her family started following.” In addition, six months before he passed away, her father finally became a believer after witnessing God’s Word transform his wife just as it had transformed his daughter.

Madina is part of a story of God’s transforming grace not only in her family but among many other least-reached people in Central Asia. Shortly after becoming a Christian, she met her husband, Dean, at the English center, and the two of them now serve as Christar workers in a country that neighbors her homeland.

One day a decade or so after Medina trusted in Christ, Dean called to let her know that guests were joining them for dinner. That evening they welcomed a man and woman who were also involved in ministry and visiting the area. As one of these guests, Elaine, chatted with Madina while helping her prepare the meal, the two women soon discovered they had been in the same city in Madina’s homeland at the same time. Madina was prompted to ask her what she was doing in 1995 and inquired if she remembered sharing the gospel with a young woman who flatly rejected her message.

Elaine said yes! She was the neighbor who had first introduced Madina to Jesus! God had graciously brought the two women back together, allowing Elaine to discover how He has used her boldness and enabling both to marvel at God’s providence.

Madina, who once sought to prove Christianity wrong, has joined Elaine in seeking to see other stories of salvation in Christ begin. Will you join us in asking the Lord to use her and workers like her to introduce the true light and joy of Jesus to many in Central Asia?


How can I get involved?

Pray:

  • Praise God for drawing least-reached people like Madina to faith in Christ and calling some to serve Him through church-planting ministry.
  • Ask God to raise up more workers to share the gospel in places where few have been introduced to the good news.

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