Being a light in Central Asia
We caught a taxi to the city centre as a family. Catching a taxi here would be called "hitchhiking" in other parts of the world – you simply stick out your hand, and someone will stop, and you negotiate a fee.
The first taxi was driven by an elderly Central Asian gentleman. He enjoyed that we were foreigners and gave us a lesson in Central Asian music throughout the whole 30 min journey, playing bits of traditional and modern music on his CD shuffler. From his rearview mirror was hanging a Central Asian blue-beaded chain with an evil eye and glass mini open koran – the perfect symbol of how Central Asians view themselves as Muslim, with a lot of superstition and folk traditions mixed in.
The taxi we caught home was driven by a young Russian man. He also enjoyed that we were foreigners, and he understood all our Central Asian languge, even though he said he only spoke Russian. He tuned in on a Russian radio station which played English pop music for us. From his rearview mirror there hung a black-beaded chain with a Russian Orthodox metal cross hanging from it.
Driving in those two cars that day felt as if we were entering into two different worlds in the city we live – the worlds of the Muslim Central Asian and the Orthodox Russian. The Central Asians are in the majority, and for years, they were part of and ruled by the Russian speaking USSR.
All over the city are gold-domed buildings. On spires on top of some of the domes are the crosses of the Russian Orthodox cathedrals, and on others are the half-moons of the mosques. Visitors to the city have been known to mistake one for the other.
As foreign Believers, how do we distinguish ourselves apart from one of these two worlds?
We don’t look ethnically Central Asian, so we are assumed to be Russian.
People have a hard time believing that we can speak the Central Asian language, but we can't speak Russian.
When we walk into a Russian Orthodox cathedral, we feel just as out of place there as we do when we enter a mosque.
How do we love the people in this city who come from either one of these worlds and help them find the only true way through Jesus Christ?
How awesome that the Gospel transcends cultures and that it is the same message for both worlds that share the same city!
"For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed." Romans 1:16 - 17