Azad (not his real name) knew he had to leave his home town and his country as quickly and quietly as he could. His cousin and his closest friend had recently been killed after being conscripted by Islamic fundamentalists and forced to fight for their cause. And now the Islamists were trying to recruit him. As a secret follower of Jesus he was even more vulnerable. So he packed what little he owned and hiked across the mountains to a neighboring country.
Over the next few years Azad married and had two children. Occasionally he received news from his home town of friends and family members who had been killed for their faith or died in battle. He progressively developed a deep hatred for the nation he had escaped and an overwhelming fear of the Islamists who had now started to cross the border and infiltrate the area where he lived.
But everything started to change the day Azad met some Youth for Christ leaders who had come to his nation to meet with people interested in starting a youth ministry. He was captivated by their vision for changing a nation by reaching its youth and he was keen to find out how he could be involved.
After several weeks spending time with the Youth for Christ leaders and praying much about what God wanted him to do, Azad joined Youth for Christ and started reaching the young people of his region. After only a few years Azad had established himself as a brilliant, courageous and Godly leader and he was appointed as the national coordinator of the Youth for Christ ministry.
One night as Azad reflected on the many young people that had been impacted through his ministry, he started to think about the youth in his home town; how they lived daily in fear and despair with no hope that things could change, and no chance to experience the transformational power of Jesus and His Kingdom. Compelled by a deep love for his people, Azad started to develop a plan for establishing a Youth for Christ ministry in one of the most hostile and isolated nations of the world.
Azad shares, “God took my hatred and fear and transformed them into love. I hated my country and I never wanted to return. But God gave me a love for my people and the courage to return. I have visited my home town twice now. We have identified, trained and appointed a young leader who has already recruited volunteers to help him. Some young people have been reached and many others are targeted. Three young people have already become followers of Jesus.”
The seed of transformation has been sown and the potential for growth is enormous.