On my recent trip to northern K’stan, I had the privilege to attend my first Kazakh worship service. It is a new church start (I do not want to reveal the city to protect the family). The story of how the church started is quite remarkable, but I am going to only give the condensed version.
The Russian man who was burdened to start the church was in the neighborhood where many Kazakhs live. He was at a bus stop and noticed a Kazakh man standing there also. He began praying for the man and God prompted him to approach the man. As they began talking, Kostya discovered the man, Nurlan, was a believer. He had been attending a Charismatic church but had stopped attending services there for several reasons.
Nurlan invited Kostya to his house which wasn’t too far from the bus stop. When Kostya arrived he found a man that had 2 natural children and 10 orphans living with them. These orphans have lived with Nurlan and his wife Karliga for several years. The children had been abandoned by their families and so they took them in.
So now they are having worship services in this man’s house.
When we arrived, I was overwhelmed by the love in the house. We were given a short tour of the home. The home was given to them by the government since they had taken in all these children. The government was also providing them aid for the children, that is, until the government found out they were Christian. At first, they cut their support by a few thousand tenge (around $20), then almost in half.
In the bedroom where the 4 boys sleep, I found the room to be neat. However, what shocked me was how they were sleeping. Homemade bunk beds were standing with a small, thin quilt that serves as their mattress or cover. There was no mattress, no pillow, just a thick piece of plywood. My heart was broken. Yet, these people were content and happy.
Soon I was enjoying my second lunch in an hour. The table was prepared and so we sat on the floor and spent some time around the fellowship table. The family is fortunate to have a cow, so we drank homemade buttermilk. Members of the church bring food each week as fellowship around the table is an essential part of their worship service. (They are real Baptists!)
After lunch, we had an incredible time of worship. The 10 children wowed us with their beautiful singing. They sang songs in Kazakh and Russian. I was so blessed by their singing and it was so evident that their hearts are filled with Jesus.
After the service, we had to travel to another village so goodbyes were short. It was a tremendous experience and one I will not forgot any time soon. I would have to say it is definitely one of the top highlights of my missionary experiences.