Rozina [roh-ZEE-nah] worked in a school of technology in Azerbaijan. A young man came to the school asking to study. He had no parents and no money, but Rozina helped him enroll. He was a good student and did well in school. But some staff members at the school became angry because they thought Rozina had taken a bribe to help the young man and then had not shared the bribe with them.
Rozina insisted that she had not taken a bribe, but she was asked to leave the institute. Rozina was heartbroken that her kindness was being repaid with cruelty.
Rozina was a religious woman, and the next Friday she went to a nearby cemetery to pray. “Why are You punishing me for doing good?” she demanded of God. “Where are You in my trials?”
For three years Rozina prayed, seeking comfort and peace. But she found neither comfort nor peace. Then one night she had a dream in which a man told her, “Don’t go to the cemetery to pray. Look instead for this door.” The man pointed to a door that opened, and she saw a small group of people inside.
The next Saturday Rozina went to the bus stop and found a number of people there talking amongst themselves. She heard them mention God, and she listened. Then she asked them, “What do you know about God?”
One of the women pointed to a little house near the bus stop. “Every Saturday we have a time of worship in this house,” the woman said.
Rozina followed their gaze to the little house and recognized it from her dream. “May I join you next week? I want to find God.” A girl wrote down the address of the house and the time that the little group met for worship.
The next Saturday Rozina knocked on the door of the house. Someone opened the door and invited her in. She entered the room and felt sure that this was the place where she would find God. She sat and listened as the worshippers sang and prayed and studied the Bible together. She felt their love and was inspired by the Bible study. When the worship service ended, Rozina knew that she would be back. Eagerly she waited for the next Saturday and the special worship service.
Rozina continued attending the worship services; she learned about God and about the Sabbath that drew these people together on this day. Sabbath became special to her.
Then she received a call from her former employer inviting her to return to work at the institute from which she had been fired. Rozina was thrilled to have her honor and her job back. But then the school changed its schedule, and Rozina was required to work on Sabbaths. Rozina resigned rather than work on the Sabbath.
Rozina knew the danger that could come from changing her faith, but she took her stand and was baptized into membership of the little Adventist church. She shared her faith with family members, and in time her sister and nephew became Adventist Christians too. Then her mother and father accepted Jesus as their Savior. But the rest of her family persecuted them for forsaking their family’s faith.
Religious freedom is not widely practiced in Azerbaijan. People persecute others who belong to a minority religion or those who change their faith. Christians are looked upon as enemies, and families put great pressure on anyone who shows an interest in becoming a Christian.
But in spite of these difficulties, Rozina continues to share her faith with friends and family. She gives them books as gifts, and tradition encourages them to accept these gifts. But she doesn’t know whether they are reading them. “I just pray that God will remind them that the books are in their home and hold a blessing for them,” she says. However, Rozina knows of one family who has become Christians because they read books she gave them. In fact, Rozina knows of some 20 people who have come to Christ because of her testimony. “These aren’t many,” she says. “I want to bring more.”
Rozina, like many of the 720 or so Adventist believers in Azerbaijan, shares her faith under difficult circumstances. Our prayers and our mission offerings help these faithful believers reach their neighbors and their families for Christ. Thank you for sharing so others can learn that Jesus truly is God, and that He loves each of us.