30 Jan 2013
Imagine having a child with disabilities in a country where they will be stigmatised, neglected and deprived opportunities.
One third of your children won't get to access the education that they are entitled to.
If you're a mother, two-thirds of you will quit your job to care for your child full time, adding a financial strain to your family.
Around 120,000 children are registered as having disabilities in a Central Asian Republic.
It's probably more, but many parents don't want to register their child disabled, because of the stigma attached and opportunities that will be lost.
Many husbands left when the child was born
Meeting the need around them
A few years ago, some young local leaders asked themselves the question, "What group of people in our community should we be serving?"
They saw that disabled children and their mothers - many of whose husbands left when the child was born - needed to experience God's love in ways that would mean something to them.
So these young leaders have put on a retreat for the last two years. They take precious children, many of whom can't walk, and give them a great week of fun activities. Meanwhile their exhausted mums are given a restful holiday which they otherwise wouldn't be able to afford.
Mum too scared to go
One of these mums, whose son is severely disabled, was scared to go.
Why would anyone be scared to go on a retreat?
In a Muslim country, she had not heard good things about Christians.
"I only came because I was desperate," she told one of the leaders. "I have no one to help me or my son. I see what the TV says about Christians, but I came anyway because I felt like I had no other option.
"But no one loves me and my son like you Christians."
The joy of giving
A small team of young leaders recently visited some of these children and their mums and others they hadn't met before.
They brought warm clothes, fruit and sweets, played with the children and made cards, and told them about Jesus.
Some of these children received only one gift over the entire Christmas holidays.
It was the gift this team brought them.
We'd love to be able to show you the photos of the children's smiles; their faces lighting up as they got their presents.
But we can't put them at risk, because of the country's strict laws on Christianity.
The true story
But although the Muslim population are taught by the Government and the state controlled media to be wary of Christians, those who experience the practical love of Jesus see a different side.
"In every home we went to, the parents were so happy they wanted us to stay for dinner!" said one of the team.
"One mother said to us, 'I have a hope that we are not alone and that someone cares - even about us.'
"We were able to tell this widowed mother that God truly loves her and her daughter."
"I have a hope that we are not alone and that someone cares - even about us"
This year Shavkat, the young leader Innovista have trained to take on this ministry, is running twice the number of retreats to enable more disabled children and their mums to have fun, enjoy rest, and experience God's love for them.