Please know that the details in these stories have been changed or removed in order to protect the students due to religious persecution. We have also changed the gender in some stories for further protection. We do however feel that the true essence of their stories are captured. The stories also show the greatness of the God we serve.
If you would like to hear more stories like these and to learn more about what God is doing in Eurasia among persecuted Christians consider contacting a Keys' representative to come speak in your church, camp, Bible study, or at your next event.
Maria was a young child when both of her parents died (just one year apart). She was sent to an orphanage. She says she was treated well but still longed to have a family like other children. Eventually the government closed the orphanage because it was "a Christian place". Maria went on to live with an aunt during her teenage years.
Maria learned English very well and agreed to do translation work. She accepted an opportunity to translate for a preacher who was from the USA. She translated his words as he spoke about how Jesus offered forgiveness and life. Maria says God worked in her heart and she finally understood what is communicated in the Bible. She began to study more and learned that God has a purpose for her. She hopes her university education will help her to one day be a manager for an organization that helps people and trains future missionaries. She says many more missionaries are needed in Eurasia!
Andrea comes from a country where evangelistic Christian meetings are banned. He says there is only one registered Christian church in his hometown although other large religions are free to be practiced. Only Andrei and a few other family members are followers of Jesus. However, Andrei's father follows one of the majority religions of that area and he is very hostile towards them. He has threatened to beat them and to "disown" them if they continued to go to church. Unfortunately Andrei does not have much of a relationship with his father today but he does say that he hopes that will change one day.
Andrei found out about the university program while attending a Christian festival in Eurasia. Half way through Andrei's first year he changed his major to social work. He says he has a strong desire to serve others. He plans to gain experience by working at a children's camp and to participate in other short-term trip opportunities.
Susan comes from a large family, in Kyrgyzstan, but she is currently the only one in her family who professes to be a follower of Jesus Christ. Susan was a teenager when a friend invited her to go to a Christian conference. Even though she couldn't afford it, she found a way to go. It was on the second day, of that conference, that she gave her life to Jesus. While that was a life changing moment, Susan says that life didn't instantly become easier. Instead she entered a deep depression as most of her family turned away from her because of her newfound faith in God. Despite that struggle, Susan is now encouraged as some of her family members are beginning to notice that her actions have changed for the better!
Susan is enjoying her classes and especially those in social work since she has such a strong desire to help people. She hopes to use her education to help victims of human trafficking as well as women who have suffered abuse.
Nora's grandfather was introduced to Jesus Christ through the words of a missionary visiting him in the hospital. Not long afterwards, her mom accepted the Lord, but Nora didn't believe at first. She prayed in the mosque, but felt nothing more than that she was keeping tradition. Two years after Nora agreed to go to church she prayed to the Lord saying, "Come to me."... and He did!
Now Nora feels called to missions. The transition was a difficult one, filled with lots of tears, but Nora has received encouragement from people with which she studies. She is working with children and hopes to have opportunity to serve refugees.
Sarah is from Central Asia and is now seeking to reach out to orphans, widows and the less fortunate. Sarah was one of nine children born to her alcoholic mother and atheist father. Her parents had lost three children during the course of their lives. It was through the death of a 16-year old son that her mother had a life changing experience. She realized her need for a Savior, which in turn, changed the entire family forever.
"I was really shocked and amazed" by the transformation Sarah recalled about her mom. "I still waited... too long... until troubles came and I knew I had a need, and then I repented." Sarah went on to say that "Jesus changed my character, soul, spirit, my way of living and my way of thinking." Sarah has been studying sociology and is actively leading a women's ministry.
Igor is one of the few students from a persecuted country actually born into a Christian family. He is part of a large family and his parents would get up very early every Sunday morning to put all of their kids in their car and drive across the border to a different country for church. There were no churches in their area that they knew of but there was more religious freedom across the border. Then one Sunday they were told they couldn't cross the border. They had been reported and were placed on a list so they would no longer be able to attend that church.
That didn't stop this family however. They started a home church and eventually several families were coming to their home for church. Now Igor and one of his siblings have devoted their lives to serving Christ both aspiring to be missionaries in their home country.
Anna was raised in an Islamic country. Anna was a nominal Muslim as was common in her country, she didn't actively practice Islam. One day she decided that she wanted to start going to Mosque. During her second trip to Mosque, she was offered the opportunity to get closer to Allah. Anna went with these people offering closeness with Allah and was recruited to be a terrorist. In order to be accepted into this special group she had to kill a Christian. The only Christian she knew was her uncle so she decided to kill him. The only way she knew how to do that was to get to know him better and so she went to church with him. On Anna's second trip to church she accepted Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior. She went on to study at our school so she could be better prepared for ministry. Her desire is to reach more individuals just as she was reached.
Other Graduating Students
Ministries and churches, led by graduating students, have formed and are meeting many needs. Pictured are craft items made by women who are being helped through a sex-trafficking ministry. These women are taught skills and assisted as they reintegrate into their communities.