October 6, 2021 | View All Stories

A Church’s Compassion for Children with Special Needs Transforms Lives in Central Asia

Jasmine was so excited to have her baby. After carrying her child for nine months, she anticipated great joy in giving birth to a healthy baby. When Jasmine heard that her child had Down’s Syndrome, she was shocked and overwhelmed with sorrow. She remembered hearing religious leaders describe disabilities as a punishment from God. Now, Jasmine would have to carry the heavy guilt of feeling that she had caused her child to be disabled because of her actions. Jasmine knew her baby’s diagnosis would mean a life sentence of isolation and worse for Samuel Samir. In Jasmine’s culture in Central Asia, it is rare to see people with disabilities in communities. Their families often hide them away, not allowing them out of the house. These children spend their lives isolated, ignored, even neglected. They are forgotten. Their needs are not being met, and their families struggle to know how to help them. Jasmine knew she would receive little understanding, help, or compassion from her community as she struggled to raise little Samir.

Jasmine carried guilt, rejection, and a sense of hopelessness from the time Samir was born. When she heard of a conference to help parents of children with disabilities, she decided to attend. Little did she know how it would change her life and that of her precious son.

Hope in the Church

Arman pastors a church in Central Asia that saw the need to help people with disabilities back in the 1990s. Young Life Ministry started Mercy Ministry at the church to help people with disabilities and their parents. The church realized that Jesus was concerned about all people. He had absolutely the same attitude towards people with disabilities as He did other people. Arman’s church decided to compassionately meet the needs of the disabled and those in need.

Hungry and Seeking

Jasmine had been searching for God since she was ten years old. Because of her family’s religious beliefs as well as the beliefs of her friends, she began to read the Quran. She was looking for answers. Nevertheless, Jasmine felt disillusioned by all the rules and laws in the Quran. To be found faithful, she was required to do many good things, and it just seemed too difficult to follow. There were too many laws and rules; it was overwhelming.

Around the age of twenty, Jasmine met a Christian who shared with her about having a personal relationship with God through Jesus. Jasmine heard the message only as information but did not apply it to her life and her heart. Many years later, however, she would remember that conversation.

A Life Transforming Conference

Jasmine learned about the Mercy Ministry Conference for parents of special needs children when she was about 40 years old. 

At the conference, Jasmine realized that the Christian leaders had an entirely different attitude toward her child. Their approach was one of acceptance. They treated her son as they did anyone else, showing care and concern for Samir and her. She came to the realization that this was because they were Christians. There was no condemnation, just love, care, and acceptance. She heard the gospel shared again and saw it lived out during the conference. Jasmine came to the place where she decided to pray to accept Jesus as her Savior and Lord. The love and acceptance she received at the conference had convinced her that Jesus is real.

Now she’s part of Arman’s church. She and Samir attend church regularly. They have been changed radically. She cannot stop talking about how it is important to accept people with differences, even with physical disabilities. She also wants to tell others about the unconditional love and forgiveness that she found in Christ Jesus. 

Jasmine came to the conference looking for help for her external needs. What she received is so much more and so much better. She received the gospel of acceptance, the gospel of forgiveness, and the gospel of grace. Jasmine changed on the outside because God changed her internally through Jesus Christ. Jasmine’s family has been radically transformed because her relatives have heard about Christ from her. They realized that Jesus is not a Russian God or the God of Americans, but Jesus is the true Son of the Heavenly Father.

The Rest of the Story

Jasmine has become involved with the Mercy Ministry at her church, the same ministry that held the conference she attended. She is sharing the gospel with her relatives and friends through personal conversations using the four spiritual laws. She shares about Jesus and the hope He gives her every day. Jasmine is praying for her husband, Ibrahim, who used to practice Islam but lately has been disappointed with Islamic teaching and some of its practices. Ibrahim has been to church with Jasmine on several occasions and has many questions.

Samir has become a part of the Church family. He enjoys coming to church gatherings and spending time drawing and playing with younger kids.

Transform Others

When donors give to specific ministries to support their work, they hope that God will use the result to touch individuals. He does that very thing. Jasmine and Samir are examples of individuals who have had their lives changed for eternity because of the donations given to ANM. You can donate and help the next hurting mother to be offered the gospel, acceptance, and hope through a ministry like Mercy Ministry. Give to missionary support to be a part of God’s work to love and accept the forgotten in society.

Header image: Stock photo.

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Sue Morris is a writer with ANM's Marketing team.

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