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Kazak woman’s dreams lead her, dozens of others to faith in Christ

TASHKENT, Uzbekistan (BP)–She was the first. Only God could have known she would lead so many others in Kazakstan to know Christ.
Gulya was born in a Kazak village in Soviet-ruled Central Asia. Her people had brought Islam to the region long ago, but as a child she was brought up to believe what the Communist Party taught: There is no God.
Still, when her mother died, 7-year-old Gulya wondered, “If there is a God, why does he let people die? Why does he not see my tears?”
She went to live with an aunt, a cruel woman who beat her. As she grew older, she seldom thought of God, but she feared death. At night, when the fear gripped her, she would get up and walk.
In 1981, her husband of 28 years left her with five children. Soon after, she lost her job, and in desperation went to Tashkent, capital of neighboring Uzbekistan. There someone shared with her for the first time the good news of God’s love.
The Holy Spirit whetted her appetite to know more. She read a book comparing Muhammad, Islam’s prophet, with Jesus. The difference soon became obvious: Muhammad was a man; Jesus was Lord.
One night Gulya dreamed she was asking for forgiveness from God. She realized her feet were dirty, and a man suggested, “Wash your feet in the river.” She did, and they were clean. In another dream, she saw the sun. Many people appealed to her: “Follow the sun, and we will follow you!”
When she told her Christian friend in Tashkent about the dreams, her friend exclaimed: “You must tell everybody! The dream means that you will accept Jesus and many people will follow you by believing in him.”
Gulya accepted Christ as her Savior in 1991 and was baptized two years later. Soon after her baptism, two other young Kazak men accepted Jesus as Lord and came to the Russian Baptist church she was attending. They were the only three ethnic Kazaks in the church and felt out of place.
With help from friends, Gulya started a small fellowship. The group began without a pastor, but soon God sent a young man whose Turkic language was similar to Kazak, and he could preach, sing and play guitar.
Today the church Gulya started counts more than 200 baptized believers. New converts are added nearly every week. Sunday morning worship is usually conducted in Kazak, Russian and Uzbek. Believers also meet Saturday night for Bible study and often pray all night Friday. The congregation constituted as a church last year and calls itself “Senim,” which means “faith.”
That was only the beginning. At least once a week Gulya, her pastor and other believers show the “Jesus” film and share their faith in public buildings, mosques and homes. They often spend days in Kazak or Uzbek villages.
Usually they encounter a friendly reception — but not always. Sometimes people curse them and reject the gospel they share. Their lives have been threatened. Newspapers and a radio station have accused them of betraying Islam for American dollars. Once 40 Muslim men came to a home where the team was preaching and threatened to kill the pastor.
One Muslim leader stormed into their church, angry that his own daughter-in-law and grandchild had accepted Jesus. Gulya and the pastor gave him a Bible and showed him the “Jesus” film. Now he teaches Muslim children from the Bible in the Islamic school he runs.
Another time, while team members were showing the Jesus film and distributing books to children in a village, police detained them.
“We are not pitting one religion against another,” Gulya told them. “We are just presenting the truth. Take this cassette and see if there is anything that would mislead children. If you find anything wrong, you can put me in prison.”
After a few hours they were released, recounts Gulya, who remains determined to introduce Kazaks to the Savior she has found — regardless of the opposition.

    About the Author

  • Janelle Young