“We were at the edge of divorce and now have steps to continue our marriage.”
—Kazakh Seminar Attendee
The Kazakhs are an Asiatic or Mongol people who look a lot like American Eskimos. Northwestern China is on their eastern border. Kazakhstan was part of the Soviet Union in Central Asia until its breakup in 1992. Therefore, a lot of ethnic Russians, a mostly Slavic Occidental people, emigrated there during the 20th century and remain today. Most of the population is Muslim with a few remnants of the Russian Orthodox Church.
Two of our staff traveled through 14 time zones from home to Almaty, Kazakhstan to conduct two types of trainings and a demonstration event. Fifteen couples attended the training, including couples from Uzbekistan, Armenia, and Turkey.
Two of the couples that had attended the trainings conducted two HomeBuilders groups, and they expanded to 17 groups. Now they were ready to expand with additional leaders and speakers, plus begin to establish FamilyLife in a few neighboring countries.
In keeping with the new FamilyLife Global strategy, our representatives wanted to demonstrate a more reproducible marriage event rather than the hotel-based Weekend to Remember. They used the one-day Couples Relationship Seminar (CRS). God gave them a seminar that was extraordinary.
The Kazakh leaders decided without any suggestion from our team to replace their interpreter with a more experienced professional, prior to the marriage seminar. That was such a relief, but he created yet another challenge. The audience really warmed up and started laughing regularly at the speakers’ jokes and stories. So did the interpreter. Although our staff had gone over their jokes with him in advance to prevent this from happening, the interpreter stopped the seminar a dozen or more times by laughing too hard to deliver the punch line of the jokes.
Three expatriate couples serving as missionaries in Kazakhstan attended the training and seminar. One of these couples approached the speakers with some special marriage needs about living and serving overseas. The speakers gave some solid advice, which they received very willingly.
Like all Couples Relationship Seminars, the day had a session where the audience is divided into HomeBuilders style groups to discuss marriage principles. Several people continued their discussions through the teatime that followed.
After the seminar the guests were treated to a romantic dinner. Everyone considered the seminar to be a tremendous success. The audience of 103 was over half non-Christians. Seven individuals indicated decisions that they received Christ, a significant result in a Muslim culture. Twenty-two signed up to join HomeBuilders groups.
In spite of the challenges, the week for the International Leadership Conference and marriage seminar went splendidly. The hosts and those trained were ecstatic about the results.
Comments from conferees:
“I really loved everything, can’t choose one thing. My wife and I began to understand. God helped me to come. A few days ago I had a crash in my life, I turned to God‑he helped me to come here today. I now understand many things. Thank you.”
(He received Christ)
“I was nervous‑we were all part of the team. I looked at different nationalistic parts of our team and yet we all reflected God. My prayer was that God would put each of us at the right place in the group. I approached two women and said to them “Are you aware there are people here who don’t know Christ?” And they said, “That would be us!”
–An ILC trainee who shared Christ with them
“This was our first conference as a couple like this. We were participants, observers, and helpers. Nothing like this is in Uzbekistan. We are so thankful to see it with our own eyes. Our prayer was to start this. Lord how do we build this for our people?”
“For the first time in 20 years I received a love letter from my husband.”
“I told a widow who wanted to come. ‘No, this is not for you.’ But, she begged me. I was trying to understand her reason for coming. She came to me after and said; ‘Now I know what to tell my children.’ Thank you for your prayers‑ hat I did yesterday was of God.”
“I was not sure how I fit as a single person. And I just want you to know how important this has been for me. My parents were divorced when I was 7 years old. They had no problems before then. Just one huge argument. They were beating each other and separated forever. They had never communicated and just lived in only their own worlds. I had never wanted to marry. I’m 27. Two months ago I prayed God would change my heart. At the seminar, I was able to forgive my parents for not being an example or teaching me. I am ready to follow whatever God has for me now.”
–translator for the conference