Tag Archives: Uzbek

Why We Stay in Moscow

Today, I went into a fitness center to renew a membership.  The manager was sitting off in a corner, smoking a cigarette, mad as a hornet that we were rude enough to intrude on her day.
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“Excuse me,” I asked, “We’d like to extend a membership.”
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“Can’t help you.  Cash register’s broken,” she snarled without making eye contact.
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“When will it be fixed?” I asked.
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“Maybe today.  Maybe not,” came out in the middle of a smoke cloud.  Again, no eye contact. Service with a scowl. I walked out of there, kind of disgusted with people in Moscow.  But then I remembered Shahid.
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Shahid was pushing a “borrowed” shopping cart through the bazaar, offering to haul people’s purchases.  As this Uzbek Muslim man wearing a prayer cap walked past me, we made eye contact.
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Thousands of unreached are in Samarkand, Uzbekistan

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Before he could finish asking me, “Do you need a cart?,” I squeezed in an “Asalam Aleykum!” This means “peace to you” in Arabic.  Shahid stopped in his tracks as he doesn’t hear that very often from a Russian-looking face.  He told me his story. He had finished studying for nine years in a madrassa.  At the beginning of Ramadan, he shamed the Muslim owner of the bazaar into letting him use a vacant room for their tradition of ritual prayers.
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“Now,”  he proudly told me, “seventy of us gather for prayers five times/day.” He is the prayer leader.  As I offered to give him a Magdalena film in Uzbek, two Dagestanis jumped in and rudely demanded that he not take the film.  Shahid, however, followed me out of the bazaar to the Metro.  It was clear he wanted to talk.  He ended up eagerly taking the film.
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I have been praying for him since.  Two days ago, I returned to that bazaar and called him.  We met and talked near the Metro entrance.  I pulled out my pocket Bible and read Hebrews 11:6 to him.  He listened intently.  I think his Russian was good enough to understand what I said.
He stared at the Book and then asked me quietly, “Can you get me one of those in Uzbek?” We stood there and prayed, hands open up to God, as people churned around us entering and leaving the Metro.  Shahid did not care. Neither did I.
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This is why we are here.   And this is what you were made for, as well.

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My first and last visit with Dilya

Redeem the time . . . Ephesians 5:16

The nature of migrant workers is that they are migrant. We often notice an ebb and flow to our work here. Sometimes there seems to be a great interest in what we have to share and many visitors in our homes; other times it seems as if everyone is busy working or out of the country.

Vital Part of the Mall's Food Court, Moscow, Russia
This travel blog photo’s source is TravelPod page: By train to Moscow

My brief acquaintance with Dilya reminded me that we must make the most of every opportunity. She actually approached me at a food court where she was working. This was unusual. I was eating a meal with family and friends, and she started up a conversation. Every so often she’d walk away to pick up trays or wipe down a table, and then she’d return and share more about her life. In 15-20 minutes I learned more about her life than I know about some of my closer Central Asian friends.

Right before I left, I found a Mary Magdalene film to give her. I told her it was in Uzbek, and she excitedly took it. She told me to make sure I came back to visit here and so I asked her schedule. “I’m here every day from 12-10,” she said. Again, she asked me to come back.

I was leaving soon for a 1-month trip to America, so the very next week I went to see her. I wanted to see how she liked the film. I wanted to ask more about how she was doing, but she was gone. I waited around the food court for a while, grabbing some lunch, and hoping to see her pop around the corner. She never appeared.

Maybe she was sick that day. Maybe she found a better job. I don’t know, but I do know I need to “redeem the time.” We never know here when our first meeting with someone may be the only chance to leave them with the message of truth.


In the News

Some stories here in Moscow can be “stranger than fiction.”

Read the story here about an underground town of Uzbek migrants that police raided.

Pray for the millions of Muslims and Central Asian migrants daily seeking work in Moscow.


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