TURKMENISTAN: SHAGELDY ATAKOV
We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Thessalonians 1:3
“Break him morally or destroy him physically!” The Turkmenistan bureaucrats had no more patience for this street preacher.
Shageldy Atakov was offered his freedom under President Saparmurat Niyazov’s December 23, 2000, amnesty, provided he would swear the oath of allegiance to the president and recite the Muslim creed. Shageldy refused the amnesty again.
Shageldy had been threatened by state officials before to stop preaching. He was arrested in December 1998 and sentenced to two years in jail, but a prosecutor appealed the verdict as “too lenient.” He was then sentenced to two additional years in prison. Shageldy was in such pain from the harsh beatings that he asked his children not to touch him.
In February 2000, his wife and five children had been forcibly taken from their home and exiled to remote Kaakhka where they remained under “village arrest.”
When his family visited him in early February of 2001, Shageldy said his farewells. His wife noticed that “during the visit he was bruised and battered, his kidneys and liver hurt, and he was suffering from jaundice. He could barely walk and frequently lost consciousness.” He did not expect to survive much longer.
Despite this, Shegeldy was still not broken. He would not give in, and though release was within his reach, he would not accept it if it meant forsaking his allegiance to Christ.
Humans can live for many weeks without food, yet we cannot survive many days without water. In the same way, our spirits need spiritual nourishment as well. We may go several days, months, and even years without companionship- our spirits can survive despite the loneliness. We may do without peace, enduring illness upon lingering illness-our spirits, though discouraged, will survive. If we try to endure long without the hope of Jesus Christ, however, our souls diminish. We cannot live without hope, God’s precious gift to his children. If you are feeling as though you cannot go on, ask God to encourage and motivate you. You will endure all things with a strong hope in Jesus Christ.