Sari Mirzoev, who says he was the first Muslim in Azerbaijan to convert to Christianity, would like to see all Azeri people become Christians.
“We want to see all 9 million Azeri people come to believe and know Christ,” he said. “This is our dream.”
Mirzoev converted to Christianity after the Soviet collapse in 1991. Today, he now pastors the largest Azeri evangelical church in the country, the Love Baptist Church.
"The Lord said that, even though the church at that time was made up of mostly Russian people, soon it would be filled with Azeri people, and the Lord would do it through me."
In 1995, the government started allowing the publication of Christian literature, including the Bible.
"We started by translating the Bible so people could have God's Word in their own language. From there we moved to producing books for children and various other Christian literature,” said Gulshan Huseynova, who runs the country’s only Christian publishing company.
Azerbaijan allows for religious freedom, but building a church and ministering is often made difficult by harassment and recent religious laws that make registering churches and printing Christian material harder.
"It wouldn't be possible for anyone to effectively share the Gospel without God's wisdom and the help of the Holy Spirit," said Alan Bedoev, who works with the Illinois-based Mission Eurasia, an organization that equips young church leaders in 13 countries of the former Soviet Union.
Mirzoev’s church has been shut down before and he’s also been arrested, but he says he’s not giving up on ministering to the people of his country.
"Our path is challenging, but we overcome through Christ, who loves us," Mirzoev said. "We are committed to praying for our president and our country."
Photo courtesy: Thinkstockphotos.com
Publication date: March 2, 2017