I didn’t understand a word the pastor said. Everything in Azerbaijan was different, including how they take the Lord’s Supper. Everyone goes to the front and uses a communal cup. I took the cup and bread that the pastor and the assistant pastor extended to me and I returned to my seat with my friend. I asked my friend what the pastor said. He explained in halting English, “He said take eat this is my body which is broken for you and take this cup which is my blood which was shed for you.”
I sat down on my pew and my heart broke for the people of Azerbaijan. Thousands of years after the death of Christ on the cross very few in this country have heard of the broken body and shed blood of our Savior.
God used Azerbaijan to convict me as a believer. On my first Sunday in the city I walked a mile to reach an international church which conducts services in English. I carried my Bible under my arm and worried the whole way to my destination. Here I was, an American from the rural South walking across a Shiite Muslim city in Central Asia with a Bible under his arm, how many things can go wrong?
When I arrived at the church I met local believers. One teenager was wearing a white T-shirt with black letters. I asked him what it said and he responded: “It says, Now I Belong To Jesus”. In my misplaced concern for my safety I had forgotten that precious believers in Christ live in that city every day. Instead of hiding or shrinking before the very real threat of persecution they are bold in their faith. For me, Azerbaijan was a few days of my life. For many believers Azerbaijan is their life.
Everywhere I went in Azerbaijan I met friendly people who sincerely welcomed me to their country.
I have found that many people in the USA and the West do not know anything about Azerbaijan. When I announced my trip to the country many people responded with blank stares and bewilderment. It is a small country with a relatively tiny population. But, God has thrown open the door to Azerbaijan. It is easier to enter the country right now than it has been since Azerbaijan became an independent country. Pray that God will send laborers into His harvest in Azerbaijan. If God is calling you to a creative-access country will you pray about Azerbaijan?
God is already at work in that country! Faithful believers are telling everyone about Jesus, men of God are standing in pulpits and proclaiming the good news of the broken body, shed blood, and resurrection of Christ. I asked pastors and Christians what they needed most from believers in the West. They didn’t ask for money or for resources. Every single person responded the same way, “We need your prayers.” Will you commit to pray for the believers in Azerbaijan?”