12 Jul 2013
62 million people live in Central Asia.
35 million people in Central Asia have never heard about Jesus.
They've no idea how much he loves them.
Yet there's a small number of people across the region who are choosing to follow Jesus.
Elvira is one of them. She was raised in a Muslim family, in a Muslim village.
Then she met a lady who told her about Jesus.
Now she's a Christian — The only one in her community.
It's not an easy path.
Religious persecution is on the rise across Central Asia. Governments and police are actively searching for Christians who are sharing their faith.
A couple we know were fined seven times the average annual wage when their house was raided by a policeman who found Christian books.
Like them, Elvira (22) and other young leaders across the region are showing courage in spite of this opposition.
Courage to share the hope that they so passionately believe in with others who so desperately need it.
But how do you tell people about Jesus in a country where you're not allowed to?
Young leaders in Central Asia are running secret camps and seeing lives changed through them. They're a particularly effective way of giving children and teenagers opportunities to hear about Jesus, many of them for the first time.
Camps are often held in tents or rented cottages in the mountains — safe places away from the police. Leaders are careful about who they invite and the group agree on a readymade excuse to use if someone asks them what they're doing there.
How do you tell people about Jesus in a country where you're not allowed to?
It's one of the most effective ways to share the gospel with this generation in this context.
For the last two years, it's been illegal in this Central Asian Republic for under-18s to participate in religious activities — this in a country where more than 1 in 2 are not yet adults. Camps give courageous young leaders a way of sharing their hope with this generation.
Elvira is passionate about seeing the children and teenagers from her village follow Jesus.
So she joined 25 others on one of our training programmes, so she can lead a camp this summer.
It's a place where the kids can enjoy games and food, and hear stories from the Bible which they wouldn't normally get to hear.
There are 35 million people across Central Asia who have never heard about Jesus.
But Elvira, and others like her, are working on changing that.
Elvira's name and photo have been changed for security reasons