Covid 19 Central Asia | 9-3-2021

Pandemic Opens Up Remarkable Opportunities To Share The Gospel In Central Asia


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Restrictions, repression and refusal – this is typically the story of Christianity in Central Asia, where in many places it is immensely difficult for believers to openly express and share faith in Jesus.

But Your generosity has enabled Christians in Central Asia to help on the frontline in battling Covid-19 - and it\'s leading to remarkable opportunities to share about Jesus. Read on to find out more and your role in it…

Unexpected four-hour window to talk about Jesus

The story behind this question began when Open Doors local partners heard that hospitals did not have enough small, portable machines that provide oxygen for Covid-19 patients for four hours at a time.

Having purchased machines – thanks to your amazing generosity – the partners contacted local hospitals, asking, “Who are the families that cannot be taken to hospital but need urgent help?” Names and addresses were provided for the partners to visit. 

“One case was an older lady whose family was previously very hostile to the gospel,” shares Timur*, an Open Doors local partner whose name we\'ve changed to protect his identity. “The family didn\'t even ask who these people were. They accepted them very gladly.”

Whilst the lady was given oxygen for four hours, there was ample opportunity to talk. “Central Asian people love to talk,” Timur continues. “After the family discovered their visitors were Christians, they asked, ‘Why do you do this?’ It was a wonderful opportunity to reach out to this family. Now this family attend church. They haven\'t yet accepted Jesus, but their attitude completely changed.”

Christian books distributed openly for the first time in 20 years

Given the limitations on leaving home, local partners made themselves available to deliver food to people – which the governments permitted. “In some cities, believers started to walk the streets and help people with food shopping,” Timur says. “Surprisingly, the police – who were watching the city and knew they were Christians – didn\'t stop them.”

“Together with the food, believers also gave out (Christian) books,” Timur adds. “In some cases, it was the only moment, probably in the last 20 years, when we could do this openly.”

“The negative part of Covid-19, we all know, but the positive part for us is that many people who were closed to the gospel are suddenly open,” Timur continues. “We could meet families, thousands of them. They just needed help and somebody who could come and at least talk to them, because in some of the countries quarantine was so strict.” 

There have been other areas where local partners have quickly adapted to lockdown restrictions. Online meetings and streaming have developed, enabling church services, youth work and leadership training to continue. Websites for young people are being produced. “God found solutions for us, even in this challenging time,” Timur says.

Father of five shares gospel in hospital before dying of Covid-19

Timur knows well the darker side of the pandemic – several of his key contacts have died from Covid-19. 

“They are with the Lord,” he shares. “But here on the earth, we don\'t have them with us anymore. Most of them left families. All of them were active in ministry, all of them were young – just 35 to 45.” One of them was married with five children. “He was preaching in the hospital, even in the last hours of his life. He was still trying to reach out to his neighbour in the hospital.”

For Timur and other Christians, whilst there is acute pain over losing people so dear to them, there is tremendous hope in knowing they\'ll one day see them again.

Sometimes Timur questions why God allowed these faithful believers to die. But he is finding that in trust there is overwhelming peace. “God gives a deep peace that He is in control,” he says. “He knows, He\'s in charge.”

Believer sells fridge and furniture but still doesn\'t have enough to feed children

Many governments, not knowing what to do, initiated strict lockdown measures. In Uzbekistan, people couldn’t even leave home to get food. Marketplaces, which economies and livelihoods rely upon, emptied as personal interaction became unsafe. 

“We would have so many calls from our brothers and sisters who said to us, ‘We are going to sell our furniture,’” Timur relates. “One sister called me and said, ‘I\'ve already sold my fridge, some other furniture, but we still don\'t have enough to pay rent, and I don\'t have enough money to feed my children. Could you please do something and help? Or at least pray.’ She was crying.

“We had these kinds of messages quite often,” Timur says. “It was quite a heavy experience. It felt like a disaster – on the church, on families, on people who we know.”

Sadly, as has happened across the world, following Jesus has led to many being overlooked in the distribution of aid. Across Central Asia, many believers from Muslim backgrounds have been denied help by their Muslim communities. One group of believers were not given food packages by their community, leaving them to survive by eating grass. Thankfully, Open Doors local partners have since been able to provide them with food. 

‘Thank you very much to each of you’

Timur closes with a word of gratitude for you. “We are very thankful that, even though we have never met personally, we feel your presence and love and faith in God, and we are very encouraged by this. There will be some day in heaven when we will spend a lot of time talking, looking back on the joys and on the work we could do together.”

*Name changed for security reasons


  • Give thanks to God for the remarkable opportunities that have opened up in Central Asia to talk about Jesus – please pray that this will continue and lead to a bountiful harvest of people coming to know Jesus.
  • For protection, strength and wisdom for local partners as they serve in the region, and for complete healing for all those infected with Covid-19.
  • That all believers suffering financial hardship because of the pandemic will have all their needs met.