Written by: Open Doors
Article source: JOY! Magazine
In Southern Africa we have the privilege of practising our faith freely – by celebrating religious holidays, attending church services, and gathering with other believers to worship openly.
Unfortunately, our family of faith who are living in countries where Christianity isn’t welcome, live in sharp contrast to this. It’s hard to imagine that some of our brothers and sisters in Christ aren’t able to experience the same freedom in their faith. They often live in constant fear of persecution, and are forced to serve the Lord secretly…
Azamat, an underground church leader in Central Asia, has first-hand experience of being persecuted because of his faith. Azamat came to faith in the early nineties after God healed him from severe health pro-blems. He was inspired to start a network of religious home groups and a thriving children’s ministry.
One day when Azamat wasn’t there, the police and security officials raided a church service. They forced all the attendees to give written statements confirming their identity and reasons for attendance before they were released. When Azamat went to the police station to find out what had happened, he was openly told that they had already closed 13 churches and that his church was next.
“Please tell the people who pray that we can feel their prayers,” Azamat shared.
Threats and physical abuse
Thereafter, he was summoned to the police station for daily questioning. During this period, he was
threatened and physically abused. The officers tried to force him to give a written statement about his church, but he refused as it could be used against him in court. At times the questioning went on from 14:00 in the afternoon until 22:00 at night.
“The police threatened to put me in jail if I didn’t give them the information on paper. In the end, I wasn’t sent to prison, but our church registration was withdrawn, and our church was officially closed,” he says.
The power of prayer
Despite all the difficulties, Azamat kept on praying for the Lord’s help. God answered his prayers: He and his wife attended a Christian retreat organised by Open Doors. They met many Christian leaders and pastors from different regions and found it helpful to share their experiences, testimonies, and prayers with each other.
Today Azamat has a powerful testimony about the power of prayer in his life. “God can even use challenging circumstances to answer our prayers. I recovered from my ordeal through the support and prayers of many people and it feels like we have already crossed so many hurdles. I feel joy and gratitude to God and everybody who prayed for us and supported us.
“Please tell the people who pray that we can feel their prayers,” he shared.
Make a difference
Like Azamat, our family of faith shares our faith, but their lives and freedom are so different.
Through the prayers of supporters, Open Doors can help people like Azamat to endure in their faith amidst difficulties. YOU can also make a difference in the lives of our persecuted family by becoming a prayer partner of Open Doors today. Visit opendoors.org.za/je2205
Geopende Deure – Open Doors NPC | Nedbank
Branch: 198765 | Acc: 113 750 4552 (Business) | Ref: JE2205
Geopende Deure – Open Doors NPC | Absa
Branch: 632005 | Acc: 160 340 568 (Current) | Ref: JE2205
Date published: 19/04/2022
Feature image: *Name changed for security reasons and images are illustrative.
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