21 Oct 2015
Did you know that the five countries that make up Central Asia are around the same size as the European Union, but that together they have half as many Christians as Luxembourg has people?!
Like you, we want to see that change. We want to see more people here following Jesus. And local Christians do too.
But they face huge obstacles when it comes to sharing their faith. In some Central Asian countries, telling others about Jesus is punishable with fines or prison. And because many churches are forced to meet underground, Christians often don’t get the chance to be encouraged by others who are following Jesus under the same relentless pressure.
But thanks to generous Innovista supporters, 50 Christian leaders gathered recently for a Leading for Life conference, held in a secret location in Central Asia that was hidden from the authorities.
For three days, they were able to receive encouragement, training, and meet other Christians like them. And they did all of this without needing to look over their shoulders to see if anyone was watching.
One leader, a convert from Islam who has faced pressure from his community for his new faith, told us, 'I felt like you really understood us. I felt safe here.'
The Wedding That Wasn’t
Just making it to the conference was a huge challenge for some. Three leaders were arrested en route, and then released. Others travelled for more than 24 hours over national borders to reach the secret venue.
One group of leaders was invited to attend over a phone call from a friend. But because of concerns about their phone calls being listened to by the police, the group was told that they were being invited to a wedding. It was only when they arrived at the conference - dressed for a wedding, and carrying a gift for the bride - that they were told what was really happening!
'I felt like you really understood us. I felt safe here.'
Your Support is Making a Difference
It is such a privilege for Innovista to see first-hand how God uses the generosity of our amazing supporters to bless an otherwise under-resourced and often forgotten church.
During Leading for Life in Central Asia, we saw pastors of underground churches sharing their struggles freely with others like them. We saw leaders who are pioneering peace-building projects in areas with ethnic conflicts leave encouraged. And we saw one church leader leave with a vision from God to serve children with disabilities who, in his words, are “locked away” in state orphanages. None of this could have happened without the generosity of Innovista’s supporters.
Making a Bigger Difference
Already we’re looking at how we can bring Leading for Life back to Central Asia next year, and help twice the number of leaders. And we’re exploring ways in which we can better support more of these young leaders and give them the tools and training to turn the vision that God has given them into reality. Because, like you and like them, we want to see the church in Central Asia grow as more people come to know Jesus.
'None of this could have happened without the generosity of Innovista’s supporters.'
If you’d like to find out more about how you can get involved in these opportunities when they arise, please email robin.peake [at] innovista.org and we’ll keep you posted.
Thank you for standing with us the church in Central Asia and its leaders.