Thursday, September 8, 2016
It was 5 p.m. on May 25 in the year 2000. Lena was 21 years old, and at this precise moment, she accepted Jesus into her life for the very first time.
Up until this point in her life, Lena had stayed away from Christianity, and even religion in general. Living in Kazakhstan, most people belong to one of two major faith groups. Lena had once visited a Russian Orthodox church when she was a child, but felt physically sick there due to strong odors in the sanctuary. This experience left a negative impression on her.
“I wasn’t planning on going to church at all, especially to the Protestant church. I don’t know how or why I decided to go,” Lena said. “My friend invited me, and it was really surprising to me even that I went because I had an important event later that day.”
Her friend had invited her to a youth event at the Nazarene church in Astana, Kazakhstan, which included a screening of the JESUS film. It changed her life.
The first thing she noticed was how welcoming the people were; they instantly felt like family. After seeing the story of Jesus portrayed in the film, she accepted the living Christ personally.
“It’s still strange to me how it happened because I had a very negative view of church. I understand it was the Holy Spirit that moved my heart, but at the time, I didn’t understand,” Lena said.
God continued to work in the hearts of those near Lena in the years after she began to follow Jesus. Slowly, Lena’s whole family was transformed.
Lena had told her mother about her new life in Christ, but at first her mother wasn’t convinced. She thought Lena would eventually move past this as just a phase in her life when something else piqued her interest.
Lena attended church often and continued spending more time there. She began bringing her younger sister, and not long after, Lena’s mother began attending as well. Once her mother became a believer, her father began attending. When Lena’s brother saw the whole family going to church, he decided to go, too, and eventually became a Christian.
Lena’s whole family is now experiencing vibrant life in God. Faith has drawn them even closer.
“We shared our testimonies with each other of what God did in our lives. With Christ, we started growing in faith, and in some ways our relationships changed for the better.”
Lena has learned to trust God to provide, even when situations were difficult. Lena often suffered from colds and asthma-like symptoms. There were many moments when she struggled to breathe. Some of these moments occurred during important events, such as praying in the worship band, or riding public transportation. Once, Lena was riding a bus to a nearby town during winter, a season which made her breathing more difficult.
“I couldn’t breathe. I started praying that God would take the symptoms away because if not, all of the people on the bus would be scared of what was going on with me and they would have had to stop the bus,” said Lena.
Although she felt someone sitting near her, she continued to desperately pray.
“I started feeling warmth in my legs as if someone put a blanket on them,” said Lena. “Suddenly I felt very warm in my throat and all the symptoms went away, and I realized that this person next to me was Jesus.”
At that moment, Lena remembered the song “Breathe” by Michael W. Smith, and she prayed that God would be her breath. Once she felt His presence and prayed that prayer, Lena felt better. Since then, Lena’s breathing has not been a problem. She testifies to the healing power of God.
Today, Lena teaches music theory at the musical school in her town. She now witnesses to and plants seeds of the Gospel in the lives of students and coworkers at her academy. She also married a young man from the church and together they’re serving God there.
Lena would like to see Nazarenes throughout the global Church continue to remind one another about the faithfulness of our God.
“I don’t know what my life would have been if I had not accepted Jesus as my Savior,” Lena said.