Pastor - Kazakhstan
Bakhid labors in southern Kazakhstan. He is a graduate of the Samara Center for Biblical Training and is a part of their fellowship of pastors. In addition to his regular preaching activities, Bakhid is also very active in evangelism among the Muslim Kazakhs in his area, who make up the majority of the population. Due to new government laws and regulations, Christians in Kazakhstan are now losing their religious freedom.
Testimony of Conversion
My conversion to Christ took place in 2000, in prison. It happened when I was serving my third prison sentence. For all my life until then, I had always tried to solve my problems by myself. I grew up in an impoverished family, and my parents were divorced when I was 14 years old. At that point I left home in order to go live in a dormitory and attend school in the city. After school and then military service, I saw that my classmates with whom I had grown up were living in much better circumstances than I. I began to try to change things in my life, which eventually led me into the way of the criminal as I began to steal. Yet I was not able to hide. And if after the first and second prison sentences I still had hope and confidence in my ability to solve my problems.
It wasn’t until my third prison sentence that I realized that I could do nothing to change the plight of my life. For the first time I realized that neither my will, nor my strength, nor my intellect had any significance. I understood that I was in circumstances over which I had no control and which I could not influence. I did not want to live and I began contemplating suicide. I began to understand that my youth had disappeared into emptiness, my current life was one of despair, and my future was filled with sorrow.
Then, suddenly, I heard about Jesus Christ. One of my fellow prisoners began to talk about this Christ who came to save sinners. This news in my situation became for me my last hope. This fellow prisoner began telling me that Christ died and rose from the dead, and that he hears any sinner who will turn to him in sincerity. From that moment I began to pray – to ask for forgiveness for my sins, to ask for freedom from prison, to ask to live the kind of life he intended for me. He heard me. And through a period of time the burden of the sin that I had committed began to disappear. My soul became free and was filled with joy–even in prison.
Then, in place of the 12 years that I was to serve, they reduced my sentence to just three years, and out of these three years I had already served all but eleven months. After I was released I immediately found a church – a local Baptist Church – where I was then baptized after attending services for just over a year. I give all the glory for this to my great Savior, Jesus Christ.
I began to seek ministry opportunities in 2001, shortly after I was saved. Even while I was still in prison, serving the remainder of my reduced sentence, the administration of the prison trusted me with the keys to a tiny place for prayer which was on prison property. They allowed me to organize twice daily meetings for fellowship around the reading of God’s Word. From that moment the study of Scripture became important to me, and I began to study earnestly in order to be able to communicate something worthwhile to the others. While all my efforts were very
simplistic and far from what was desirable for the sake of the other prisoners, God nonetheless gave wisdom and basic understanding of His Word – enough to be able to recognize and forbid the efforts of Seventh-Day Adventists to preach their “gospel” at these meetings. After release from prison I began attending a Baptist church in Petropavlovsk.
Calling to & Description of Ministry
The fact that God has called me to now preach His Word is something that was observed even by the leaders of the church which I first started attending. They noticed that I was always ready and willing to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. I desired to proclaim this message from the church pulpit even before I had been baptized and had become a member of the church. The church’s leaders realized the need to hold me back for a while, for I was like a snorting horse eager to race into battle. It was only right, for I was still young and untaught in the faith. It also led me to begin preaching on the streets, since I was not yet ready to preach in the church. My desire was prompted by my great love for my Savior, who forgave me of such sins. But I came to realize that there is a difference between a person who has a desire to do something, and one who is able to do something. I wanted to preach, but as I tried it usually did not come out that well – something which others had to tell me as well.
I started preaching on the streets and in personal meetings. After I was baptized I was allowed to begin preaching occasionally in the church, and after a while the church leadership – with the support of the entire church – decided that I would make a good missionary and agreed to support me so that I could serve in a region that needed a church. I accepted this commission and began life as a missionary.
Then the opportunity arose for me to receive some training in that which my heart longed to do–in Bible exposition. I entered Samara Center for Biblical Training in Samara, Russia, and finished the program successfully in 2008. From that time forward, as I and others have observed marked progress, my calling in ministry has been confirmed and strengthened. I preached in prisons, drug rehab centers, and in Kazakh auls. Around that time a church from Germany began to help our sending church, and two pastors in particular – Tim Kelly and Andrey Michel – would come regularly to teach seminars on issues like Bible interpretation. These seminars were of great personal benefit, as they provided me with the skills I needed to interpret the Word of God accurately.
At the same time, my own deepening study of the Scripture began to lead me into doctrinal disagreement with some of the members of our sending church and their traditions – specifically my growing convictions about God’s sovereignty in salvation. Members of the church began to contact the leadership with the result that they removed me from ministry, as well as the main pastor, for our convictions. The pastor left the church, and we and four other families left with him. Several other families from a different church also joined with us, and a new church was formed.
Connected with this departure, my support and my commission as a missionary sent from my home church ended. In place of this, I turned all my attention to helping the pastor organize this new church. The pastor at that time began studying in Samara Center for Biblical Training, and during his absences I preached in his place. After finishing this program myself, I have now preached through 1 and 2 Thessalonians, and Galatians. I have also preached through portions of the Old Testament, specifically the lives of Elijah and Elisha. I have recently begun preaching through 1 and 2 Kings. On December 4, 2010 I was ordained to pastoral ministry in our small church plant, to serve alongside the other pastor. In addition to continuing to help our new church, I have begun outreach efforts and am actively preaching the gospel among Muslim Kazakhs.