“I had a lot of questions for many years,” said Aizada Amanturova. “‘What’s the purpose of living and waking up every morning?’ I had an empty feeling in my heart and suicidal thoughts. I’m from a Muslim family in Kyrgyzstan, and I didn’t find answers in my Muslim faith.
“The same day I was planning to commit suicide, my friend shared Christ with me. I told her I was probably going to end my life anyway, but I would try to accept Christ and believe in Him. I prayed, ‘Jesus Christ, if you’re really the Son of God, please heal me, give me answers, and do something about the pain. It’s such a burden to carry.’
“About a year later, I was washing my face and looking at myself in the mirror. I thought, ‘Wow, I don’t think about suicide anymore.’ I just realized that slowly the change had happened.
“After that, I went to church. I used to ask a lot of questions and study more to see if this faith I was learning about was really true. The more I studied, the more I realized that God is good, and Jesus is the Son of God. But at some point after accepting Christ, I stopped growing.
“After graduating from college, I started working in Afghanistan. One of my co-workers, Timothy Martin, was a member of Watermark, and he shared some Watermark sermons with me. I listened online to the ‘Boy Meets Girl’ series and other messages as well. I realized that while I had accepted Christ, I wasn’t pursuing Him, and I didn’t grow.
“I began to learn that following Christ is not simply putting aside one hour to read or pray. Abiding with the Lord must become part of our life. Being a fully devoted believer meant living in Him.
“It was hard to grow spiritually in a Muslim country. We can’t be open about our Christianity. My parents don’t like the fact that I’m a believer. They don’t want me to talk to my relatives or friends because they are afraid they will find out, and it would be a disgrace to our family. I went to church at a military base so I could be more open. I felt more freedom there even though I was in the middle of a war zone in Afghanistan.
“I’ve been listening to Watermark messages online for two years now. I wanted to come to Dallas, meet people and be open about being a Christian. I prayed about coming to visit, and God opened the door. The ticket I got was two times cheaper than usual, and the visa process went really smoothly. Normally, it’s really challenging.
“When I showed up at Watermark, I explained that I was here from Kyrgyzstan for the first time. Then a Watermark staff member, Katie Morris, came by and we started talking. She introduced me to another girl, KyLea Ingram, and we talked. I felt very welcomed.
“My whole experience before coming here was that no one wanted to hear my story. They thought I was brainwashed and was forcing my beliefs on them. At Watermark, the leaders talked about fellowship, community and being authentic. I wasn’t sure if people actually did that. I was praying that I wouldn’t be disappointed when I came. A selfish prayer in a way, but I really wanted to see a believer’s life.
“When I came to Watermark, it was a true blessing. Everyone is authentic, loving and vulnerable. The first time I met people, they shared about their struggles and how they need to abide in Christ each day in order to grow. It was very encouraging.
“During my trip to Watermark, God put a lot of young, energetic, smart believers in my path who are running after Christ. They don’t just show up and listen to a sermon then go do their own thing. They’re very encouraging and knew how to cite Bible verses. They were living the full life that I heard about in the message series, ‘These Are The Days.’ It was really good to see.
“I’ve learned that there are faithful people out there who are not just pretending. There were girls here at Watermark who walked with me along the way, and another friend, Rachel Sarmiento, even hosted me at her place.
“I’d like to go back and share Christ with others and be used where I am. I’m praying to meet other believers in Kyrgyzstan and start a community group. I think it would be good to gather a group of young people and just watch messages from Watermark.
“God has been good. I’ve always wanted to travel and meet people. He used this time for me to be among believers. I’m still growing; I have no idea how God will use me. I can just abide in Him and trust where the Lord takes me.”