Dilshad’s story is an outstanding demonstration of the sovereignty of God over one life, and His empowering and enabling. It shows His anointing upon a woman whom He has called to be His hands and feet in an area rejected by many and to a people marginalised and ignored by most.
Dilshad will turn 40 this year. As a teenager in a remote region of one Central Asian nation, she had mastered the English language to such an extent that she was employed as an interpreter by missionaries. She embraced the gospel message through this contact so that she was a Christian when she married a Muslim man with all the ceremony and expectations attributed to her culture. Moving in to live with her husband’s family she became the daughter-in-law expected to serve her new family. Her mother-in-law retained a large degree of influence over her husband and would call him away from Dilshad whenever she felt the need. Many times this was difficult and great unhappiness grew in her heart.
One night when she was alone in her bedroom she saw a light outside the window. The light increased, as though it was moving towards her until she witnessed the presence of the Lord Jesus enter her room. Clothed in white, with a radiant face, He approached her as she lay in her bed, touched her shoulder, lifted her blanket around her and assured her of His great love for her – a love that would never cease, no matter what her circumstances. From that moment Dilshad’s life was anchored deeper in relationship with the living God.
Her first child was born with crush injuries to her head necessitating her being in intensive care for some months after her birth. When the doctors released the baby from hospital Dilshad was given a long list of instructions for the baby’s 24-hour care. Following these instructions diligently Dilshad was able to bring her daughter back to the hospital for a check-up at 12 months and there was told the doctors had never expected her baby to live.
As the families celebrated the child had lived to one year, Dilshad’s parents attributed this good health to skillful doctors. Her husband’s parents also attributed their granddaughter’s health to the skill of doctors. “No”, said Dilshad, “it is the Lord God who has given life and health to my daughter. He is to be praised.”
Neither family would accept this and she was immediately rejected by her own family. They chose never to speak with her again, her father saying, “I no longer have a daughter.”
One year later while remaining in her husband’s family home, Dilshad gave birth to a second daughter. But only three months later her husband moved away for employment and she was literally thrown onto the street with her two children. There she stood in the snow, abandoned by man but not by God. Dilshad soon found a home to rent. Only hours after being kicked out by her in-laws, she returned to her former home to find her possessions already on the street, thrown into the mud and melting snow.
With determination, Dilshad soon found employment teaching English in a nearby school where there were also nursery and kindergarten classes where her daughters could be sheltered. Dilshad still needed to be their carer, and after each lesson she would return to her children to change nappies, and feed them.
An older Christian woman in her town became her spiritual mentor while Dilshad continued teaching and living life as a single parent. She grew in faith and understanding of God’s call on her life. Then, being sent out from her fellowship group, she moved to a neighbouring country to be a missionary herself.
In the capital city of this country she was trained to care for children with disabilities. On a mission trip to a town nearby she encountered many single mums with disabled children. They were living in shipping containers because this town had been decimated by an earthquake almost 20 years earlier and had never been rebuilt. Dilshad had found her calling! Because of her own story as a single mum, and as the mother of a daughter with ongoing health challenges, she believed she could be used to bring the hope of Jesus to women in this town. She saw herself in these ladies.
Dilshad has organised surgery for children with disabilities, an ongoing need. Last summer Dilshad organised a camp for mothers of children with disabilities and their siblings. 120 people attended the camp. Many women accepted the invitation to follow Jesus.
Livelihood projects have followed offering new employment possibilities for women. Obtaining land grants for the village leader, an agricultural project has been implemented that currently employs 20 people. Plans are afoot for greenhouses, and one lady has become a produce wholesaler.