News from Samarkand

Samarkand, Uzbekistan February 2001 

We have built a wall around our property in Samarkand, but we know that the visible walls are not so important as the invisible ones. In Uzbekistan you see a lot of walls. Thatís the oriental way of building. Not like in Holland where you from the street can see into everybodyís living room. In the East houses donít look very hospitable at the first look, but hospitality is in the blood. 
Physical walls could not stop Jesus. He just walked through them. Invisible walls could not stop him either. He totally discouraged the kingdom of darkness by walking all over the place. This is what we continue to do in Samarkand. Yes, we are a church without walls and without a ceiling . 
Hope to see many of you in Helsinki.
Pastor Matti Sirvio 
Azer and Leyla Iskenderov: We are happy to share our thoughts in this brief message about what is going here in Samarkand. First of all without doubt it is a great school for us and all those who are in our team. Itís not the easiest place but what we can experience day after day it is a deep blessing of our Lord. More important thing is that people are hungry to hear the living Word of God and itís wonderful to see a real fire in their hearts to seek GodÖ For us it is a great privilege to be in the place where God wanted us to be for this period and be a witness of His resurrection. 
The ďlocal BodyĒ is growing in Spirit and the truth what encourages people in heart and unites them in love, so that we all may have the full riches of complete understanding in order that we may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ as it is says in Col. 2:2. God bless all His faithful servants. In Christís love, Azer and Leyla 
Maharram and Sofia Guseynov: The first half of February was very cold; there was a lot of snow. Now itís warm, you can tell that spring is coming soon. Itís great to watch the nature that the Lord created. Please for our registration, for our pastor and team, for music ministry. God bless you all.
Eija Vanhanen: I am sitting in an Internet cafe in Tashkent writing my newsletter. Tonight I am flying to St. Petersburg and taking a night bus to Finland to visit my family, and to attend the European conference in Finland the beginning of March. 
Yesterday as I was riding in a car the 298 km from Samarkand to Tashkent I was deeply thankful in my heart to God for the last seven months of my life here in Uzbekistan. I thank God for his amazing ability to make us obedient to him, to hear his voice and to follow him... inheriting an abundance of blessings from him. I have gained so much during these months...
Among these blessings are the following:
-a wonderful little church in Super
-a great group of ladies that gather Saturday nights for a Bible study
-a group of 10 faithful students in the Dom Kultury that are slowly getting evangelized -the family of my new landlady - God is doing miracles in their lives as well as so many other lives

-two medical doctors who just last week were in my house wanting to know more about Christ. They still don't have courage to come to a meeting, but want to come to a home Bible study
- Aziza, a wonderful friend who lives in Tashkent and now visits us in Samarkand once a month
- Luiza, Renata, Gulshoda, Vasil, Dennis, and other young people who love to just hang around and learn from God...
Thank you for your love, prayers, support.
Ilgar and Gulya Gasanov: What can be better in our life than to be a witness and at the same time a part of fulfillment of Godís promises. No artwork can be compared with the greatest work of Almighty Creator, who quickens broken hearts. He looks for a lost soul He patiently, carefully and tenderly takes care of it and makes out of it the greatest miracle of all Ė the new creation in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Ramin Gasanov (14 years old): What can be more beautiful than Godís love? Our church grows daily by Godís grace. God has open many things to me here in Samarkand. Praise be to Him forever. Amen. 1 Cor. 13:4-13
Inna Eminova: I keep receiving Godís gift of being in Samarkand and minister here as I can. Our church is growing and we start new outreaches. In January we started Grace Academy and 6 children study there now. Our team is 4 people: three local girls and I. They just begin to work with children but already have good results. The main thing is that they have a great desire to serve. Itís a great joy to minister in Grace Academy. Children always bring joy. When you are with children problems are left behind and you just enjoy the time of fellowship. We have classes three times a week for 3 hours in the apartment of an Uzbek family. In future we are planning to have our own place and to have more children and make our program more interesting. Now besides English classes we have Bible classes, singing and art class. And we know that soon in Samarkand and Uzbekistan God will do things that we canít even think about now. Our Grace Academy and our church have great future. Please pray for us. May God bless you. 
Often we, believers, donít have enough words to express our gratefulness to God for everything that He does in our lives and now I donít have words, so I simply say, ďThank youĒ. Thank you all for your prayers and letters they always encourage us. 
Artur Karimov: The remarkable event in the beginning of the New Year was the start of the spring semester in Samarkand Bible Institute (SBI). Classes in SBI are great inspiration both for teaches and students. The Lord adds new believers to His Body and the most exciting thing is to see local people Ė Uzbeks and Tajiks Ė come to the church. 
We are patiently waiting when the government registers our church. But as itís usual in the East the process is going with the pace of a camel caravan. Last days the police was checking papers of team members trying to find something wrong and because of that we had to stop services and SBI classes for a couple of days. In spite of anything God stays with us and we have great expectation from Godís work in our lives.
Tuula Jussila: I have been in Samarkand for two weeks. I have started my work, which is connected with a humanitarian project supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland. We have a kitchen where we make food for 30 people. Most of them are between 80 and 90 years old and live alone and have no relatives in Samarkand. Yesterday I visited three disabled people. Two of them were children. They have cerebral palsy. The third one has disease in her muscles. It would be nice if one physiotherapist could come to Samarkand and work with us.
Aziza Radjabova: I canít stop being amazed by Godís love toward me personally and pastorís vision in using people according to their gifts. Here is the church in Samarkand we are doing Godís will and He provides for us when the freedom of faith is being restricted more and more.
There are five of us ministering in soup kitchen. I, Tanya Ė the cook, Maksud and Pavlik (13-years old boys that help with food delivery) and Stanislav, he joined us recently and is a great blessing for the old people we are helping to, they love him especially they love that he prays with them daily. Besides bringing food we also visit our old people daily just to spend some time with them, to help around the house, to read the Bible with them and pray. Please keep praying for our work. 
We have great news, we have started a Bible school for teenagers and 29 teens study there. I like to be in the beginning of this ministry and teach children the simplest truth Ė the Word of God. You have to see these young troublemakers when they listen to the Bible class and take notes and meditate on the Word. Recently they got Bibles as a present and are very happy that now they have not childrenís but real Bibles. We hope that parents of these children will see Godís grace through them too. There are many teens that want to study in this school but our capacity is limited. So please pray for this ministry. 
Nina Moleva: It great to see new things being born in our church, new ministries and outreaches. A couple of weeks ago I started to train three girls on the computer and we all like our classes. I teach them one at a time twice a week. It gives me opportunity to spend some personal time with them. Itís great to see their desire to learn and help in the church. I like their readiness to help and availability and I like to watch how they grow in the Lord. We also have English courses twice a week in Dom Kultury (Culture House). I continue with my group of wild teenagers from last semester. They are 12-14 years old and every class is a challenge for me, but I love them; I ask God for creativity to make our classes more fun and joy. After classes they walk me to the church and we have time to talk about different things. Some of them come to the church, some don't, and I pray that God would touch their lives through our classes.
I was thinking of having something for girls 16-18 years old too. We have a good group of them in the church. They help as class secretaries in the Bible College and I wanted to spend more time with them besides classes. So once a week they come to my place for a little Bible study then we chat and do something together. Every time I discover something new and precious in them. Life in Samarkand is not boring at all itís wonderful.

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