The Courage of an Ambassador

World Challenge Staff

Several believers in Kyrgyzstan are learning how to be a more powerful witness in their communities as they work to bless their neighbors.

When a drop falls into still water, it creates circles far bigger than the size of a drop itself. We want to tell you a story of one little drop named Dilaram*.

Dilaram and her family lived in one of the rural villages of Kyrgyzstan. She and her husband are believers, but they were hiding their faith because they did not know how to share effectively and there was some concern about possible persecution for their beliefs.

The issue of religious freedom is complicated in their homeland. The vast majority of Kyrgyz people are Sunni Muslim and also follow the Hanafi school of thought that is much more open to religious diversity and avoids radicalism. Not all sects of the Sunni agree, however, with this decision. While the majority Hanafi government has made all religions legal — an unusual liberty in Central Asia — some adherents to other divisions of Islam believe that ‘a true Kyrgyz is Muslim’ and that Christianity should not be tolerated.

Living as a Light for Families

When Dilaram and her husband met World Challenge partners, they explained their situation but how they still wanted to find ways to impact people around them. The church leaders whom we partner with offered them training, and they happily agreed to come. They day arrived, and Dilaram and her husband showed up with three more families who were interested in the training.

Dilaram is a schoolteacher, and she had always had good relationships with the parents and children at the local school. However, she was looking for ways to be more engaged with them in a meaningful way.

Working so closely with the children, she had an inside look into many of the difficulties families were facing at home, and her heart hurt for many of her kids and their mothers and fathers who were struggling. She came into the training looking for ways to become an agent of positive change in her school.

The training offered several options for how she could impact her community, and she was excited and very motivated. She spent a week after the training gathering supplies and preparing the project she had decided on for her school.

Our partners reported, “She organized a seminar on healthy nutrition and invited parents of her school kids. The parents were really amazed. The only reason they have been invited to school previously was to hear about bad marks or misbehavior of their kids. This was the first time they were offered a helping hand. They asked for more seminars…”

Dilaram developed plans for future meetings with a variety of topics, and the parents asked her to share about hygiene, alcohol addiction and moral values for the youth. Seeing this positive response and openness in her community was incredibly encouraging.

Overcoming the Obsticles

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic struck, and meetings at school were prohibited soon after that. It seemed as if everything would go on hold indefinitely.

However, parents reached out to Dilaram, and they expressed real interest in continuing to learn more and be engaged with their children. With a little work, Dilaram organized a community development training for some of these parents and villagers who were willing to participate. Even though the schools were postponed until the beginning of the new school year, these families were motivated to move forward and continue learning and working with their kids at home. They really wanted more.

One of the tasks in the hygiene training was to go out into the neighborhoods and consider different ways that they could take care of one another. The Bible commands that we first love our God and then also love our neighbor as ourselves. A practical outpouring of this mentality is doing the little things that maintain shared spaces and help everyone stay healthy.

The parents and children returned and observed that there were piles of rubbish, decaying food scraps and waste filling their streets. As a result, the group scheduled four cleaning days all over the village. Soon, other locals heard about the initiative and joined in.

“Now this passion of [Dilaram] to makes the lives of people better, to shine the light of Christ, has been ‘infecting’ other people,” our partner shared. “This is too early to talk about conversion in Christianity, but transformation of minds and hearts is already on the way!”

Please join us in praying for Dilaram, her husband and other believers who want to live out their faith and be a blessing to their communities despite the obstacles or dangers.

*Not real name. For safety reasons, we don’t release names or specific locations in highly sensitive areas.