Central Asia (MNN) — Pioneers USA is currently working in some of Central Asia’s neediest mountain communities.
Jack* with Pioneers explains, “These mountain people are among the poorest in the world. They don’t have a lot of land for farming, and so that extra money that’s needed for their community schools and their community medical clinics just isn’t there.”
A major need for these communities – stoves.
Not only are these communities living in extreme poverty, they also face extreme weather during the majority of the year.
“These are structures that are maybe two, three rooms that are mud walls, thatch roof. These people are in elevations, some of the villages that we work in, they have sub-zero temperatures 8 months of the year,” Jack says.
“So heat becomes an important part of their life for a lot of the year. This has a big impact on their hospitals, their schools, and all of our stoves are fabricated locally. So it’s a big help for the local economy as well,” Jack explains.
According to Rural Poverty Portal, the poverty in Central Asia’s mountains are virtually unchanging. The mountain people have few resources available to them, and many times, men will leave to search for employment in more populated areas. This leaves managing households, raising children, and running farms to the women of the villages.
“As the Christian community, we’re just supposed to be doing good. And this is one of the ways that we do good in Central Asia.”
Not to mention, in the close countries of Central Asia, sometimes Christ’s love has to be shown through actions before it can be heard. In fact, a main focus of this project stretches beyond warming key community buildings. It’s about building genuine and loving relationships with the people.
By providing for community needs, ministry workers simultaneously build relationships through which they’re able to share the Gospel, sometimes even within the walls of Muslim homes. When real relationships are made, cultural walls often crumble.
Jack hopes through this project, to see the melding of the Western Church to the Central Asian Church. He’s seen stigmas in the West regarding the Central Asian churches and hopes these will, in time, disappear.
A Stoves’ Impact
Some time ago, while working in a small village, ministry workers were able to get a stove into a medical clinic. The doctor there wasn’t a believer, but he did open up to the workers about a health crisis he was going through – he was waiting to have brain surgery.
Though he wasn’t a believer in Christ, he still accepted the prayers and encouragement of the workers. Gratefully, the doctor’s surgery was successful, and through his relationship with the ministry workers, he had been given an audio Bible which he spent time listening to as he recovered in the hospital.
“You’ve got an unsaved doctor who’s opened up to the Gospel because of this project,” Jack shares.
But with the strict religious restrictions in multiple Central Asian countries, it’s unlikely this doctor would have been open to listening to the Gospel had there not been an established relationship prior.
How to Help
You can help ministry workers build similar relationships. For every $150 USD raised, a stove can be placed in a needy community. Any donation amount helps to reach this goal and not only provide physical heat in a community, but also the spiritual warmth of Christ’s love.
Still, if donating isn’t a possibility, would you pray? Pray for the relationships ministry workers, like Jack, are trying to build with Central Asia’s mountain communities and the various governments with which they work. Pray also for open hearts to receive the Gospel, God’s provision, and for Christ’s love to shine through the acts of the workers.
*Name changed for privacy