Women in Central Asia are growing and maturing in their Christian faith thanks to a training programme run by Open Doors partners. Among other things, they learn about how God worked through the lives of faithful women in the Bible. Seeing how God values and respects them has greatly inspired those are taking part in the programme.
There are wonderful testimonies of God’s faithfulness to these women. One example is Nira*. She shared a compelling story about her journey to faith and how God has been with her through many challenging times. Just as our partners go to strengthen the faith of these women, the stories of these women, in turn, help strengthen ours.
This is a part of Nira’s story.
Nira was only 12 years old when she first heard about Jesus from one of her father’s trustworthy friends. When he came to their house to share the Gospel, her father welcomed him but was not interested in what he had to say. “I’m always glad to see you, and I’m ready to sit and talk, but I don’t want to talk about God. You were born a Tatar, so you should be a Muslim, but you betrayed your faith,” he said before leaving the room. But Nira and her mother, Khalida, stayed back. They were keen to find out more.
It was not by accident that this friend stopped by to share the Gospel because that very evening, Nira’s mother accepted Jesus. Nira and her mom also wanted to attend church, but they had to do it in secret.
One Sunday, when her father wasn’t at home, Nira and her mother secretly made their way to a nearby church. As they walked in, it wasn’t like anything Nira had seen before. “I looked at the people in the church, and everyone looked happy. Everyone smiled as they sang songs.”
Nira and her mother always looked forward to Sundays, but going to church often was not something they could do without getting caught. Even though they were as careful as they could be, it didn’t take long for her father to discover their secret.
Nira’s father was very disappointed in her, especially after all the plans and hopes he had for her. He had told her: “I trusted you so much, but you betrayed the faith and me by going to church.” Nira’s father didn’t want to talk to her or even see her. As she loved her father dearly, this was a painful thing to bear.
Even her brothers called her a traitor. She vividly remembers that part of her life. “When the table was set, I always looked forward to breakfast, lunch and dinner, but I wasn’t allowed to enter the room where the whole family gathered. My mother endured all this. She quietly collected food on a tray and brought it out to me. Initially, I cried a lot, but then I got used to eating all alone, in silence. When my brothers saw that I had accepted it calmly, they began to mock me and beat me. Even then, my father just didn’t notice me.”
Sometime later, Nira became severely ill with heavy bleeding. She was constantly in pain and had fainted several times. When doctors checked, they found what appeared to be a tumour on one of her ovaries. Although she underwent treatment, nothing worked. In her state of fatigue, she had told God: “Let it all end. I have no strength at all. You can take me away to get rid of this torment.”
In those days, it seemed as though there were no answers to her prayers, but a miracle was already underway. Amazingly, when she went to confirm the initial diagnosis, the ultrasound technician could find no sign of a tumour. God showed that He is still at work in Nira’s life. Even without any tumour, the bleeding and the pain continued.
While she was still suffering from her illness, Musa*, a man from Nira’s church, asked for her hand in marriage despite his family discouraging him by saying that she will not be able to have children. Even Nira’s family was against her marrying Musa because his family came from humble means, and both his parents were deaf.
“He (Musa) didn’t listen; he was sure that we should be together and that God would bless us. He said he didn’t care if we had children or not. He would still be with me. His attitude towards me was very kind and respectful. I understood that if I became his wife, I would have to accept financial shortcomings, deaf relatives and even the danger that a deaf child might be born, but I also knew for sure that he really loved me and that he would take care of me in every possible way. So I agreed to marry him.”
Around six months before their wedding, Nira’s bleeding began to reduce. By the time of their wedding, she was almost fully recovered. That was over 11 years ago. Nira and Musa have been happily married ever since.
“Despite all the obstacles, God has united us and blessed our family. We had a daughter and a couple of years later – a son. Both our children can hear. Over time, my menstrual cycle has completely normalised. It was very difficult for me to go through all this, but now I understand that it helped me become stronger in God, and it increased my faith and trust in Him. When I remember everything I had to go through, I feel joy from the realisation that God has performed a miracle in my life.”
Continue to pray for women in Central Asia who are laying their lives daily for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Click here to learn more about women who are persecuted for their faith.
*Names changed for security reasons.