24 May Step of Faith Transforms Country
By Aura Erickson, Volunteer Storyteller
Shohrat was born in the former Soviet Republic of Central Asia, which is now known as Turkmenistan. His grandparents were devout Muslims and they taught him Islam. While Shohrat attended school, however, he learned to embrace atheism. “In my heart I was a Muslim, but in my head I was an atheist,” Shohrat said.
By the time of the fall of the Soviet Union, Shohrat was married to Maya and he worked as an international lawyer with a degree from the State University of Turkmenistan. After the Soviet Union fell, Christian missionaries began to enter into Turkmenistan. Maya’s brother was one of the first Turkmen to surrender his life to Jesus.
When Maya’s brother talked to Shohrat about Jesus, Shohrat argued with him and even threatened him, but the brother was not dismayed. He continued sharing with Shohrat and soon he, too, wanted to learn more about Jesus. Shohrat discovered that Jesus was different from the other prophets and He answered the questions within his heart.
We took a step of faith and surrendered to Him
“Maya’s brother not only shared Jesus with me, but also with my wife. The moment came when we both realized Jesus was inviting us to experience peace, joy, and eternal life. We took a step of faith and surrendered to Him,” Shohrat said.
Shohrat and Maya were filled with joy after they turned their lives over to Jesus and they couldn’t stop talking to others about Him. Many of their friends and family members came to know and surrender their lives to Jesus.
In his legal profession, Shohrat did advocacy work for the religious rights of the persecuted church in Central Asia with the foreign offices of the United Kingdom’s House of Lords and the US Congress. He asked those governments to pressure the Turkmenistan government to stop persecuting Christians.
Shohrat became an ordained pastor in the capital city and saw the first church in Turkmenistan grow to over one hundred followers. Church planting continued, and even though these house churches were driven underground, they grew under persecution.
Soon, the government learned about Shohrat’s activities. He was arrested, tortured, and beaten. The government confiscated their home and possessions. Thanks to international pressure, the government released Shohrat from jail.
God continued to open doors and, in 2004 Shohrat, Maya and their children relocated to the United States.
Impending death threats were severe enough to force the family to flee. The family hid “underground” as they moved across Uzbekistan and Russia, finding safety in Norway as UN refugees.
In Norway they worked for Trans World Radio and started to develop a radio ministry to the Turkmen people called the Good News. Shohrat helped to plant a church in Turkey for immigrant Turkmen and developed a Resource Center, which led to the first Turkmen Bible School. He kept in touch with believers, supporting and encouraging them spiritually and financially.
God continued to open doors and, in 2004 Shohrat, Maya and their children relocated to the United States. After settling in Seattle, they developed a full-service Turkmen evangelistic website with audio recordings, a downloadable audio Bible, and archives of all the audio and video programming. He helped oversee the Jesus film being dubbed into Turkmen, as well as popular Christian books, worship songs, and children’s programming. Later God opened the door for Shohrat and Maya to expand their media work through Satellite TV and broadcast the Gospel and Bible teachings in the Turkmen language into the Turkik world.
The recording work was done in a variety of locations in the US and Europe. In early 2010, after exhausting travel and long recording days, Shohrat sensed a vision from God to have a recording studio on his property. On August 28, 2013, Gospel Wave Media Ministry Center had its grand opening. The center is equipped with offices, a video recording studio, a full-service editing suite, audio recording for voiceovers, and a video monitor to review production output for sending. Gospel programs for the Turkmen people are now being recorded for broadcast on a daily basis, during prime time, across Turkmenistan and Central Asia.
Northshore Community Church played a key role in supporting Shohrat and his ministry, and continues to support Shohrat as well as church planters across Turkmenistan.
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