My name is Iroda, and I was born in Bukhara, Uzbekistan, in 1966. My parents divorced before I was born. My mother wanted to live independently from my father and left for Dushanbe, Tajikistan, when I was just 3 years old. When I was 6 years of age, my mother remarried, and our family grew with the birth of my two brothers.
In Tajikistan, I attended a very good school. My mother was educated as a doctor and because of this, I was given the privilege of attending a special grade. In fact, I was the best student in my class; all my grades were excellent, and my future was very bright. I eventually attended university where I studied economic programming, and even took a 3-year course in medicine simultaneously! My first job was as an engineer-programmer, then as an economist in a cement factory. I was doing very well in my career, and enjoyed much success in all my jobs. Even after the USSR occupation of Tajikistan, I remained gainfully employed in a Soviet-run organisation. The company quarried marble and produced marble tiles and block building products, and I continued to enjoy a high salary.
However, when the civil war broke out in 1992, many factories closed. Later, the director of the factory I worked for fled to Moscow. I continued to work for 18 months but with only scant promises of payment. My wages never came. Soon, I was out of a job, and the factory I had worked in became abandoned.
Not only did the civil war take my job and wages, it also took my brothers’ sanity along with it. They soon lost their minds completely due to the stresses and hardship of war. Nothing worked! It wasn’t long before my friends began to leave me too, and I felt very disappointed in God. In my anger I rejected God and started using hashish, a drug, to sin against Him. I even thought to myself: “If I had a child I would have something of worth in my life.”
In my search for meaning in life, I met a man, eventually became pregnant and gave birth to a baby girl.
I thought this would make my life much better. But I was wrong! The heavy burden of a daughter with no employment and no husband was overwhelming. Additionally, my daughter was very sickly as a child. She suffered from pneumonia for two months and then later contracted typhoid. She was often feverish, and vomited frequently. I began to think that the reason she was in such a state was because of my fortune-telling practice that I had started to run.
One night, many demons came into me. It was evening, and I ran to my neighbour’s to seek help. When my neighbour saw me, she was terrified and did not know what to do. Over time, the demons would come and go, and I realized that I too was slowly losing my mind. The voices in my head would say things like, “Throw yourself under that car!” and I would be powerless to silence them and I could not break free.
Then one day, a distant friend dropped by. She had told me of Jesus before but I had never listened. This time, I did. She told me of a recent testimony in her life and I remember thinking to myself that I would go just this once to this Christian church to ask God to heal me. So one day, I attended church service and listened as the preacher talked about how Jesus came to heal our sickness and set us free. I was using tranquilisers at the time, but even though the words seemed to bounce off my ears, they somehow penetrated my heart. At the end of the sermon, the preacher asked me, “Would you like to accept Him?” At that time, I felt like I was too big a sinner to be saved, but the preacher said, “Jesus came for people like you,” and I accepted Jesus’ forgiveness that very day.
Though that was nearly fifteen years ago, I continue to be in awe of Jesus’ power to transform my life! Even though complete freedom was only achieved a step at a time, the joy and peace that I eventually felt was beyond my imagination and experience. Soon, my emotions bubbled up like effervescence and made me feel truly alive. The Holy Spirit filled me, healed me, took my shame and brokenness, and turned me into a daughter worthy of His Kingdom.
Shortly after I had a new life with Jesus, God impressed upon me that He would provide a husband for me. But there I was: A Tajik woman with an awful past, 35 years of age, and with a young child of her own. In the eyes of Tajik men, I had no value at all, but in God’s eyes, I am valuable – I am His child. God said, “I will send somebody, he is a man with skilful hands, but first show me what you can do.” Keeping that in mind, I started to renovate my house, and build a new life with God. I trusted Him, and He eventually provided me with a husband! I married a wonderful Christian man from Ukraine.
It wasn’t long before people began to see God’s glory revealed through my new life. He had saved me from the darkest pits of despair and given me a new life and a future. In fact, everything was from God: My life, my new husband, my restored family life, my new job etc. He had indeed become my provider in every sense of the word! Ever since He rescued me from the clutches of the evil one, He has remained close to me, often reminding me that I am His daughter, His friend, the one loved by the King of Kings. I am forever grateful to my Father for His goodness and faithfulness. All glory and praise be to Him!