Samaya wondered if her father would ever speak to her again.
For the past several years, she’d been learning about Jesus. She first heard the Gospel while away at college. After responding in faith, she joined a local church in her city.
Samaya loved going to church. She made friends with other believers and even began dating a young man from her congregation. Soon the two were quietly engaged.
After completing her studies, she returned home. It was a big adjustment going from a large Azerbaijani city back to her small village. She missed her friends and all the opportunities to learn and grow. She wanted to get married, but she didn’t think her father would approve if he found out her fiancé was a Christian.
Today you can help young women like Samaya, who are feeling isolated, growth in their faith and experience Christian community online.
For many people in Central Asia, family persecution is a major barrier to faith. While there is no official religion in Azerbaijan, Islam is the only culturally-appropriate belief system. Christianity is seen as a break from one’s heritage. To profess faith in Jesus often means being shunned, or even disowned, by family and friends.
Samaya couldn’t attend church without her father’s blessing. But she was eager to find community, so she turned to the internet for help. After clicking on a Global Heart Ministries’ Facebook post, she connected with one of our Social Media Evangelists and joined an online prayer group with other Azerbaijani women.
Samaya continued to read her Bible and frequently asked our team member questions about what she was learning. She even told her mother about Jesus, and she also came to faith.
She thought that if she kept her faith quiet, she could return to the city and get married. Then she could leave the radical Islamic influences in her village behind and worship freely once again.
But news travels quickly in Azerbaijan. Someone found out about her engagement to a Christian and reported it to her father. He grew very angry and told her to give back the ring.
“I can’t walk in the village in shame,” he told her, “It’s as terrible as death to me.”
Samaya didn’t know what to do. She asked the Global Heart Ministries’ women’s group for prayer.
For many women in this very closed region, a Global Heart Ministries online prayer group is a spiritual lifeline.
When her fiancé arrived at the family’s home the next day, her father stood silently. He didn’t refuse to let her go. The couple received their marriage license and planned to get married at their local church in the city.
The family’s neighbors stepped in, pressuring the couple to be married at their local mosque. Samaya’s fiancé assured everyone that there was someone in the city with religious authority who could perform the wedding. The couple was married at their church. And for a month, they enjoyed life as newlyweds.
But soon Samaya’s father found out everything. “Your daughter has cheated on you,” someone in her hometown reported, “She is a Christian, and her husband is too.”
Her father planned to visit the couple’s home. He would force Samaya to divorce her husband and then take her back to their village where she could repent at the mosque. If she refused, he would disown her as his daughter.
Samaya again reached out to the women’s prayer group, asking for urgent help. She loved her father. And she didn’t want a divorce.
When Samaya’s father arrived at her home, the couple welcomed him warmly. She hugged her father and gave him the most honorable seat at their table. They placed a full meal before him. Samaya brought out a basin and washed her father’s feet.
The couple’s love and service softened her father’s heart.
He blessed them and said, “You are such honest people, be of any religion…”
He stayed the night with his daughter and son-in-law and returned home. The next time Samaya talked with her mother, her father was no longer sad or angry but calm.
Today the couple is active in their local church and able to worship freely. Samaya continues to be a part of the women’s prayer group and remains in communication with our staff. Despite the persecution she faced, her faith continues to be a testimony to people in her family and hometown.
Right now, there are many other women across Central Asia just like Samaya. They long to follow Jesus, grow in their faith and connect with other believers. They are turning to the internet for help and hope.
Together we can meet them at their point of need. Through innovative technology and digital media, Global Heart Ministries shares the message of Jesus, provides faith-building resources and connects people to the persecuted church. Every communication is secure, so people can freely learn about Jesus and safely connect with other Christians online and in their local area.
Would you give today so other young women like Samaya can experience community with other believers who will help them grow and stand strong in their faith?
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