Women in Ministry: New Paths
Evangelism and Women's Ministry in Uzbekistan
Khamira Kh. Sakhibova
I was born into a Moslem family. When I became a Christian, my father wanted to hold a funeral for me, following an established Uzbek tradition. According to this tradition, whenever someone betrays the Islamic faith, the family turns him or her out and conducts a "graveside" ceremony. After this, the person who has been repudiated does not have the right to communicate with his or her relatives. Immediately before the ceremony, I went to my father and told him that I was simply a sinner who no longer wished to live in sin, and my father changed his mind. Moreover, in a short time he became a Christian.
Now I am the pastor of the sole Uzbek Christian church in Tashkent. We had many debates about who was to be the pastor. In the beginning, I was called the "police granny," but now I'm the pastor and these women relate to me as though I were their mother. Our church is only a year old, but already a lot of young people attend, even though we have no Sunday school nor any Christian youth camps.
Under the influence of Islamic traditions women in our churches are not psychologically prepared to be leaders. As in the past, the KGB uses scare tactics against church members: often enough I'm hauled before the KGB, but I'm still standing here in front of you. The situation is aggravated by the fact that among the various denominations there is no mutual understanding. I therefore often feel like I'm in complete isolation.
In Central Asia it would be impossible for us to hold an open conference like this one. I want to ask you to direct your efforts towards making it possible to open churches run by Uzbeks in my country. Christians abroad worry about and pray for Central Asia, and we are thankful for that. However, they unfortunately lack the proper understanding of Central Asia's cultural heritage. It is very important that our national churches be developed.
Khamira Khatamovna Sakhibova was born in 1950 in Chimkent, Kazakhstan. In 1979 she graduated from the pedagogical institute of Chimkent. She converted in 1989 after watching the Campus Crusade "Jesus" film. She is now the pastor of the Uzbek nondenominational church "Sevgi Makhalyasi."
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© 1998 Institute for East-West Christian Studies