Story Central Asia | 11 May 2022
Secret Believer Ruslan: ‘You Are Not Ordinary People; You Are an Answer from the Lord’

 

 
Show: false / Country: Central Asia /
 
Ruslan*, a church leader from Central Asia, drives a simple, inconspicuous car and usually arrives late at night. A secret believer himself, he doesn’t want to endanger the Christians he meets. He knows many doors behind which Christ is secretly worshipped. He also knows that when the believers open their doors to share the gospel, they may invite persecution in as well. But he continues the mission God has given him. “Thanks to your prayers and support, we are able to survive in this hostile environment.”

Ruslan has been involved in pastoral ministry for more than 16 years. Locally, he conducts his ministry in 'home churches' gathering in different homes for safety reasons. He doesn’t do this alone. A whole team is involved.

Their goal? To reach Muslim background believers who live in rural villages in faraway regions. Ruslan and his co-workers usually meet in home churches, spending three days delivering encouragement and support. Preaching the gospel is of course a major part of each visit.
“When we worship we don’t make any noise and we don’t clap our hands to avoid creating attention. We just sit together at a table as if we are drinking tea.”

This is the only way they can have fellowship in these tough times. It’s risky for the local Christians. Very risky. "It is imperative if you are to open your house in a village that you are a serious, firm believer. You are opening your home at the risk of persecution," Ruslan says.

Ruslan describes persecution as a growing wave. It starts small, then builds up. The Central Asian pastor experienced this personally. His sister was the first to become a Christian. The persecution started from their mother who was firmly against Ruslan’s sister’s conversion. She wrote to the local newspaper about the church they attended, accusing it of being a 'sect' that took her children away from her. She continued to prevent the church meeting in every possible way until she eventually ‘saw the light herself’ and became a Christian too. Ruslan followed soon after. Unfortunately, when this happened, all of Ruslan's closest relatives cut their relationship with him and his immediate family.

The persecution didn’t end there. There was persecution against his children, too. He sent his daughter to a local school, and she began to share the gospel with her classmates. Her classmates, all Muslims, said: "Stop doing this, because we are not interested and do not want to listen." However, his daughter kept sharing until she was dragged out into the street, beaten, and thrown into the winter snow.

Additionally, they warned her, "If you do not stop, we will burn your face with acid." Ruslan was forced to transfer her to another school.

Then there were the attacks on his home. Ruslan's house was routinely vandalized, and the windows were repeatedly broken. He also received two warnings from the authorities to stop his ministry.

 
Not allowed to bury a Christian
The times when the Christians are not allowed to bury their deceased are also emotionally draining. "As I said, we serve in a rural area, and there is not a single day without persecution. Some persecutions relate to Christian burials being denied. For example, they will not allow Christians to be buried in a Muslim cemetery because the villagers say they will desecrate it. So even if a person is from that village, it is not possible to be buried there as the whole town forbids it.

When we started the burial process in the local village, I saw many people coming toward us. Fearing the worst, we stood shoulder to shoulder with shovels and got ready because we thought they would stone us. But, instead, they told us that we could not bury this man there as he was not from their village and must take him back. Fortunately, a local government person came and managed to appease the crowd to avoid further tension," added Ruslan.

They decided to stop digging and leave everything until the following day. However, upon their return, they saw that villagers had used the grave to bury one of their own. "The head of the local government said I was warned and that if I valued my life, then I should not bury this man here. Thus, we were forced to bury him in a third village. Just because the deceased was a Christian," Ruslan shared.

Through local partners, Open Doors started to help Ruslan 13 years ago. At first, Ruslan did not know the name of the organization. He was invited to a pastor's conference in Central Asia and then realized it was a secret meeting. Open Doors’ partner spoke about how we help believers in Central Asian countries. Ruslan was invited to share his experience, the many difficulties he had gone through and the persistent persecutions. It was the beginning of a strong relationship that has lasted till this day.

 
The impact of ongoing support
Ruslan couldn’t be more grateful for the help of Open Doors and its supporters. The prayers and support is what enables them to bring the Gospel to forgotten villages in remote, desolate areas.

"Open Doors helped me personally when I needed help. They helped me to undergo diabetes treatment because, at that time, I could not afford it. I was on insulin, but after this expensive course of treatment, I stopped taking insulin and then, with God's help, I stopped taking pills and was completely healed. They helped me as they took the first step to find me.”

Muslim clerics in one the villages discovered that some in their community had converted to
Christianity. According to Ruslan, they gave three orders to make life impossible for them. The Christian children were no longer allowed to attend school, it was forbidden for their cattle to eat the same grass as the livestock of the Muslims, and they were not given water to irrigate their fields with crops.

No school for their children, no grass for their cattle and no water for their crops. No chance for survival.

Ruslan turned to Open Doors for help. “You helped these believers survive these difficult times. Some received hay, others received water, and others received sewing machines or other tools that could help them earn a living. [Our church is a poor church.] What we cannot help with, you can.”

Open Doors also helped the local Christians who went through severe persecution with counselling. "When we contacted Open Doors and shared about such situations and that we needed support in solving such issues, everything was provided from their side. What you do is essential. You are not ordinary people, but an answer from the Lord. We know that we are not alone, but part of a large Christian family. [What does a family do?] At the most trying moments they will come to support you.”

 
please pray

No believer should face persecution alone: stand in prayer with those who face persecution at this very moment:
 

  • Pray for those whose house churches are raided, for those whose family members are violent against them, those who have lost their jobs because their employer found out about their faith. Pray as the Holy Spirit guides you.
  • Pray for the many online fellowships. Pray that despite the limitations of the digital world they will be able to learn from each other and grow in faith.
  • Pray for secret believers to find other believers to have fellowship with so that they do not have to carry their burden on their own.
  • Pray for information to reach the believers that will help them to stand strong in the face of persecution. Help those who have already faced persecution to be able to share what they have learned in safe ways.
please give 

Your gift today will help secret believers know they are not alone.
 

Every PHP 5000 provides vital aid for an isolated Christian family struggling financially because of persecution.  

Every PHP 7,500 runs a training seminar for brave leaders like Ruslan, so they keep serving others.    
 
Every PHP 10,000
trains an isolated believer in a new trade, so they can provide for their family.

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