“Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving” (Colossians 4:2).

Nestled along the Caspian Sea is the former Soviet Union country called Azerbaijan. Four times the size of Wales, it is rich in oil, natural gas, grains, grapes, cotton, and livestock. Its natural landscape consists of mountain ranges, mulberry groves and vineyards in the valleys, and more mud volcanoes than any country on earth. More than 400, in fact. The capital city of Baku could be mistaken as Bali, with its gold, eccentric architecture, and bling. And Baku is also known as Little Venice, with its gondolas and canals.

However similar the country may seem to other ones in our world, chief accountant and Haggai leader Saida Algayeva comments that the Azerbaijani culture is different. “People in our nation consider themselves nominal Muslims. For this reason, it takes a very long time to prepare people’s souls. Because people consider Jesus as the God of the Russians, when people find out that I am Christian, their first reaction is negative. They think of me as a betrayer. This is the attitude of all non-Christians around me. This is a difficulty every Christian faces in my country.” That is why Saida considers prayer to be “the beginning and end for me. I build relationships, then when we become friends and they see the difference, they start asking me to pray for them. They either come over or call me to pray for them. Even this is a big difference — changing the attitudes of people.”

“If people start believing in the power of prayer in Jesus’ name, it is already life-changing.”

Saida Algayeva

The Haggai Leader Experience (HLE) six years ago deepened her courage and effectiveness in advancing the Gospel. “The HLE helped me to be brave and not afraid to share God’s love. I learned how to reach out to young people and how to accept people the way they are, but not to accept their wrong belief systems. Social by nature, relationships are very important to me and I want my nation, friends, and relatives to know Jesus. There are still so many living in Gospel poverty.”

Saida hugs a woman who came to faith through Saida’s testi­mony.

Traveling often to Iran for health reasons, Saida stays with a particular Iranian family. On one occasion, the lady of the house asked her if she is a Sunni or Shiya. Saida answered, “I am a Christian. I started sharing about Jesus and washed their feet as Jesus did for His disciples. They also started washing my feet in return. The whole family accepted Christ as their Savior. I was so happy because I had been praying and asking God how I could witness and share the Gospel with that family — I really love that family. God heard my prayers and used me! Praise be to the Lord! Many Azeri people live in Iran, so other believers and I keep praying for their salvation.

“Abroad and near, my dream is for my Azerbaijani nation to be saved! I am an evangelist, and I want God to send other people who can help me tell my nation and people about Jesus. I am ready to keep serving Him in this way.”

This article comes from the 2021 Fall edition of Impact magazine.