Below is a true story highlighting one of the many unreached people groups along the Silk Road. This story is excerpted from the book, Live Dead Together: A Practice in Group Abiding. Order the book and find other Live Dead resources here.
Shukrona is the strictest Muslim woman I have met since moving to Tajikistan. Most are nominally Muslim and often their religious practice is shaped by that of their husband. One day she came over, dressed in a very conservative version of our local dress, a korta. It is a vibrantly floral dress with matching pants underneath, covering nearly every inch of her body, even in the heat of the summer. She never took her head covering off, even in my home when no man was present.
We sat together at my kitchen table and she shared with me the challenges in her life—feeling like her boss, her family, even her own mother underestimated the potential of what she was capable of; feeling like she had no place of value either in the home or in the work place. We soon found ourselves in prayer together. I directed our prayers to Jesus. I found her overcome with emotion. It was evident that the Holy Spirit was working.
Everything about my friend looked closed, but her heart was wide open to Him.
The kindness and palpable love of Jesus is often times so overwhelming for my Muslim friends, many of whom are abused by their husbands and in laws in every possible way. As it was for this friend, she was overwhelmed, but her loyalty to her religion had her up on her feet minutes later searching for a towel to use as a makeshift prayer mat so she could pray to Allah. I stood shocked. The stronghold of Islam had her praying her Arabic prayers only minutes after seeing a glimpse of Jesus. My friends are open, but the stronghold is real.
One of my friends, a local Tajik believer, once told me that family members were arguing about the Bible. One had been reading it and another condemned it by saying,
Don’t read that book. I hear that it steals your soul.
I laughed, because it’s true! The word of God is living and active. And we are believing that here in Tajikistan His Word and His palpable love will steal souls out of Islam.