Ester is no longer a slave to her mother-in-law

Growing up as a Christian in Uzbekistan, Ester experienced very little persecution—until she got married. 

She trusted in Jesus at the age of nine after seeing her mother come to faith. But for a long time, she didn’t truly understand what it meant to walk with God no matter the cost. 

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Ester’s little sister had been diagnosed with a critical laryngitis condition at just 7 months old—with her vocal cords not working properly, she would choke and be unable to breathe. 

Her parents rushed the baby to the emergency room where doctors and nurses tried every form of medicine to help her. Nothing worked. Ester’s father was told to start preparing for her burial. 

The family lived next door to a woman who would often come to their home and talk about God. They didn’t realize she was a persecuted Christian from Kyrgyzstan. Ester’s mother called her and asked her to come to the hospital and pray over her baby daughter. 

When the woman arrived at the hospital, the doctors said she was wasting her time and tried to send her away. The woman went into the room anyway and prayed over the baby. 

She told Ester’s mom that in two days they would get her back, and she would be moved to the recovery area of the hospital. Two days later, her health improved just as she said. 

From that point on, Ester’s mother clung to the woman. She didn’t fully understand who Jesus was, but she knew she wanted to follow Him. Many people in Ester’s family came to faith as a result of the miracle her sister experienced.

Ester also made a decision to follow Jesus. She grew up in a supportive Christian community and experienced very few challenges to her faith. She even studied at a theological seminary. 

But when she got married, everything changed. 

She fell in love with a man who cared deeply for her. But she didn’t realize how committed he was to his own Muslim faith. 

Ester began to experience all kind of prohibitions. For years her husband wouldn’t permit her to even download a digital copy of the Bible. He wouldn’t let her attend church or take their children to a service. Because the family lived with her mother-in-law, she also persecuted Ester for her faith. 

Her lifestyle became all about pleasing her husband and mother-in-law. She desperately wanted her marriage to work. But eventually she realized she couldn’t please them—and God.

“The emptiness that many people talk about experiencing in life, when nothing else fills the void, I experienced that. Nothing filled the void in my life. So I started seeking God,” Ester shared.

She wanted to know God personally. She wanted to walk with Him and experience freedom in Him.

“All the ‘shoulds’ and rules in society—I tried to do all of them. I became a slave to pleasing others and following rituals,” she said.

But it didn’t bring fulfillment. So Ester stopped trying so hard. She starting praying and reading her Bible again. She also decided she would attend church no matter what it cost her. 

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Her husband permitted her to attend church alone every other week. But her mother-in-law didn’t approve. She followed Ester everywhere, monitoring what she did and taught the children. She pressured her son to make her stop going—which only made their marriage deteriorate further. 

Despite the turmoil Ester faced, God met her every step of the way. Today five of her children attend church with her. She works with the Global Heart Ministries’ Uzbekistan Connect Center. She’s able to serve in ministry and provide for her children. 

But she still faces plenty of dangers. For years her husband worked for the national security agency. She knows he could still be watching and listening—and could use her Christian faith and work to persecute her or take away her children. 

Her husband has already forced their two older children to follow his faith. They live with him and his mother. Ester worries he could take her other children as they grow older and also try to convert them. 

Ester takes every precaution, but she won’t let fear stand in the way. She believes God will use her testimony to reach others with Gospel—including her husband. 

It’s a huge fulfillment of my dreams that my children can come to church with me and pray. It’s the grace of God that I get to see them walk with Jesus even after the years lost. We believe my husband will be saved. It will be a great testimony to his family and village. We’re standing in faith that this isn’t the end of the story. 

Today Ester is being discipled by our staff team and church network partners. She’s surrounded by a supportive Christian community as she walks a difficult road. Ester is also using her story as a platform to help other women who feel stuck in difficult situations and fear what might happen if they truly follow Jesus. She isn’t wasting the pain and loss in her life—she’s using it to tell others about hope. 

Right now there are so many women across Central Asia the Middle East who are living in difficult situations and need to hear about the hope of Jesus. Through innovative technology and digital media, Global Heart Ministries shares the message of Jesus, provides faith-building resources and connects people to a local church.

Would you give today so team members like Ester can share the message of Jesus with those who’ve never heard about Him?

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