Central Asians Minister Faithfully Despite Threats

When Renat and Anya arrived at OMSC in August, they left behind their busy lives in Central Asia and the accompanying ministry stresses to spend a few months in New Haven. The couple and their three daughters have already become important members of the Center’s residential community.

In 2008, Renat and Anya let small groups in a Central Asian church

In 2008, Renat and Anya let small groups in a Central Asian church

A native of Central Asia, Renat became a Christian in 1997 after the Soviet Union collapsed. In 2004 he attended a Bible college where he met Anya and they married in August 2005. The following month he was ordained as a pastor and took responsibility for leading a church. But the pastorate proved to be a difficult experience. After several problems with government officials, Renat resigned the pastorate in 2013, and started working for an international ministry that serves Central Asian Christians when they face persecution.

Church small group

Church small group

Anya, who was born in Ukraine and grew up in Central Asia, says life in New Haven is refreshing because “when I came here I could say ‘Jesus’ without looking to see who is behind me.” She also committed her life to Jesus Christ after the Soviet Union collapsed. Her conversion followed friendship with local Campus Crusade for Christ representatives. In 2002 Anya finished Bible college studies and continued working at the college as an assistant teacher. After marrying Renat, she joined a preschool program and later became the director. Anya also loves to read, and she enjoys swimming.

The couple’s oldest daughter, Grace, born in 2006, is a fourth grader in a New Haven school. She loves to study, read, and travel. Born in 2009, Mary attends first grade in New Haven. Her mother says she “loves everything about princesses,” as well as dancing, jumping, and singing. Both of the girls enjoy swimming. The couple’s youngest child, Rose, born in 2014, loves to walk, climb, run, jump, and watch movies.

The family has chosen alternate names and withheld their family name for security reasons.

Daniel J. Nicholas