20 April 2020

Ramadan in Central Asia: "God saved my life with his love"

Halida* from Central Asia became a Christian during Ramadan. In the persecution that followed she came to understand what her true purpose was to be in life. She says, "Of course, they can arrest us, they can beat us and frighten us – and they do. But they can’t take away the love and hope."


This year, Ramadan runs from sunset on Thursday 23  April – Saturday 23 May . To help you pray during this time, for each week of Ramadan we are releasing stories about the experience of persecuted Christians during the fast. This week, we meet Halida*, a persecuted Christian from Central Asia. 

Halida* from Central Asia was desperate to find God. 

She grew up in a Muslim family and was a committed Muslim. But she suffered with mental health problems for years. She was experiencing deep depression and was earnestly seeking healing during Ramadan. She says, “I thought, ‘If God won’t answer me in this pure, holy Ramadan month, I will die.’ I had no strength to resist any more.”  

During the first week of Ramadan, a friend came to see  Halida  and told her about Jesus, explaining that only in Him could she find the solutions to her problems. Her friend invited her to a Christian home group, but fear held  Halida  back. After several weeks, her desperation to be healed overcame her fear. She was touched by what she heard at the meetings, and after a few weeks, she accepted Jesus into her heart. At last, her mind was at peace. 

 That’s when the persecution started.  

"You are a shame"

When  Halida’s  family discovered that she had become a Christian, they beat her and threw her out of the house, saying, “You are a shame for the family and relatives.”  

Fortunately, other Christians rallied around her and helped her to find a house and a job. A passion for women’s ministry arose in  Halida, and today she works with women suffering from mental health problems, as well as being a secret home group leader.    

“I know that the persecution I experienced was not in vain,” she says. “I learned what my purpose is, my ministry in Him. I am going to serve women who experience violence and persecution in their families… God saved and changed my life with His love. Now I want to share it with other people.”  

Halida  and other believers like her are facing growing persecution. But it is not diminishing her desire to serve Jesus. She says, “It is strange – with the growth of persecution, we can see, at the same time, the growing need for the gospel and for growing the ministry, even though it is underground. Of course, they can arrest us, they can beat us and frighten us – and they do. But they can’t take away the love and hope.” 

SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT 

  • Is there a part of this story that particularly resonates with you? Why? 
  • Paul writes: "Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain.' (1 Corinthians 15:58). How does this apply to Halida’s story? 
  • Halida says, “With the growth of persecution, we can see, at the same time, the growing need for the gospel…” Why do you think this is? 
  • Halida says, ‘I learned what my purpose is, my ministry in Him.’ Would you be able to say the  same?  What might God be telling you about your purpose or ministry? 

PLEASE PRAY: 

  • Praise God that He gave  Halida  the peace she so desperately longed for. Pray that others in Central Asia who are searching for peace would find  it in Jesus this Ramadan 
  • That God would protect believers from Muslim backgrounds in Central Asia  – especially those whose families know about their new faith 
  • That the Holy Spirit would be changing  the  hearts and minds  of those who  are persecuting Christians, that they would have a revelation of Jesus and His love for them. 

JOURNEY THROUGH RAMADAN WITH SECRET BELIEVERS

Find other stories exploring the experience of persecuted Christians during the fast. Each story is accompanied by prayer points, and questions for reflection, so they can be used as the basis of a Bible study or discussion group. There is also a simple Ramadan factsheet, giving some background on the fast.

FIND OUT MORE

SUPPORT PERSECUTED CHRISTIANS IN CENTRAL ASIA 

Open Doors works through local partners and churches to strengthen persecuted believers in Central Asia through Christian literature distribution, theological and vocational training, women’s ministry, medical care and socio-economic development projects. 

At all times, but particularly in the current crisis, your support could be the answer to the prayers of a believer facing extreme persecution.

Find out how you can support Christians like Halida in Central Asia. 

*Name changed for security reasons 


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