Wednesday, May 3
Today, Fred, myself and our translator went to a nearby town of 40,000 to visit a Calvary missionary couple who lead a small church (called a “prayer house” there).
This prayer house used to be a thriving church. But at the fall of the Soviet Union the church fell into disrepair and was reduced from 200 to about ten older people. Today, this couple provides leadership to this church and the surrounding community. They have three children and expect a new baby in August. They are a delightful couple and were overjoyed to see us.
As the pastor of the small church, his priority has been to restore the House of Prayer so that it is a testimony to the community, even before addressing needs in his own home. They are focused on feeding the poor and ministering to children. There is very little employment in the local area and the poverty level is heartbreaking.
Another challenge is the large Kurdish community which is cut off from the other communities. Many Kurdish men turn to stealing or drugs to survive, leaving many neglected and very poor children. The church has done a great job in reaching out to these children and bringing them to the House of Prayer. They feed them, play games (the church’s small playground is the only one in the area) and, of course, share Christ with them and teach them the Word of God.
While the children love to come – coming sometimes two hours before any event begins – there is great opposition. In the Kurdish culture once a young woman reaches 14 or 15 she is married and expected to stay all of the time in the community and in her own house. She is forbidden to come to the Prayer House and would be beaten if she disobeyed. The young women then continue to have children which continues the poverty.
He asked for prayer since it has been very difficult to build relationships with the Kurdish men as they are Muslim. The local mosque, which is a very beautiful and elaborate building at the town entrance, disregards the children but tries to bring in the young men to the Muslim faith. Yet many women and children know the Bible stories, know the Gospel, and he said the seed is being sown. Also the community knows that the House of Prayer shows mercy. For example, a Kurdish boy had a serious injury to his arm and his father brought him to the House of Prayer. They were able to take him to hospital and pay for the medical expenses, though due to limited funds this was a rare occasion.
After attending a church service in the House of Prayer with about 20 people and going on a tour of the town, we took the couple, their children and his parents out for a Kazakh dinner. Almost none of them had ever been out to a restaurant. We left them to order the food. We received camel milk, horse milk, as well as soda and water! Then there was horse meat and lamb as well as some other dishes. Fred was not quite so enthusiastic about Kazakh food as I was but I encouraged him to try everything! The camel’s milk was a different experience! (See my Facebook for the video!)
As we spent time together, we prayed that God would graciously visit this community with power and salvation. It is difficult to describe our feelings as we interceded for that town and for these outstanding servants of God. We communicated to them our great love, our continuing support, and gave them some presents. They in turn gave us a clock with Kazakhstan on it and a couple of other small gifts. We then drove back to Bible Mission in Almaty praising God for yet another outstanding day.