Nargiza recalls what it was like to come to Christ in a family that didn't allow her the freedom to explore her faith.
"When I was 9 years old, I was playing with kids in the yard, and someone came up to us and invited us to watch the JESUS film. After we watched the movie, they gave us Christian books and I brought them home. My family told me this was wrong and this couldn’t be my faith. So I had to throw them away.”
Nargiza believes that although her family convinced her to forget what she had seen and learned about Jesus Christ, God remained close to her for the painful years to come.
“When we became older, we noticed that our parents were fighting a lot and finally they got divorced," she said. "So we lived with our dad and our grandparents. My brother was older than me, but my sister was only 5 years old. So I had to take care of her as if I was her mom. It was a really, really hard time in my life because I felt as if no one loved me and no one cared for me.”
When Nargiza was 13, she tried twice to commit suicide by overdosing on strong medicine. Each time, after swallowing the pills, she laid down expecting to fall asleep and then die. But after just 30 minutes, she woke up and was fine.
“I was miserable. I was thinking to myself, ‘Wow, I can’t even kill myself properly.’”
When she was a teenager, a classmate invited Nargiza to attend church with her.
“The first time I came there, I felt love and acceptance,” Nargiza recalls. “And I wanted to go back there every time. I really enjoyed it.”
Nargiza continued going to church where she learned more and more about God and His love for her. In response, at the age of 16 she was ready to give her life to God, and she was baptized. In a culture and a family traditionally following a different religious system, Nargiza’s choice was not understood.
“When my family found out that I became Christian, they were very upset and they forbid me to go to church. My father was even more upset with me than others.”
Only Nargiza’s grandfather supported her decision to follow Jesus.
“He never criticized anyone for their faith, and he told me he was glad I found a true way in my life.
“When I accepted Christ and when I was growing in my faith, He gave me strength to witness to my family and tell them openly I am with Christ and I will never leave Him. When I announced that in my family, I experienced a lot of persecution, especially from my dad.”
Despite the tension and conflict her faith caused in her family, Nargiza felt secure and confident in God’s love for her. That gave her strength to not only continue growing in her faith but to show love and compassion to her family, in spite of their rejection.
“The reason why I wanted to commit suicide [earlier] is because I believed no one loved me. But when I came to Christ, I realized how much He loves me. [So] I didn’t just go to church, I really committed my life to Jesus,” she said.
Later, she studied at and graduated from a Christian seminary. Eventually, Nargiza was ordained in another denomination. Most recently she has been serving in ministry in her Nazarene church.
God used Nargiza’s consistent and faithful witness in her family.
“[After] watching my Christian life for 11 years, my dad accepted Jesus. Through all these years he saw the difference in my life and he said, ‘Yes, I believe there is God.’ The difference between my life before Christ and after I accepted Him is that I have hope. Through all the difficulties, God is with me and I feel His love in my life.”