Olga sacrifices home for faith

Note: The name has been changed, but the facts have not.

Olga was born and raised in the small village of Bolshenarym, but that didn’t stop her from having big city dreams and ambitions. She grew up Muslim because when you are born Kazakh, you are automatically a Muslim.

In high school, Olga was very popular, but that would soon change. When she was about 17 years old, she attended a church with her older sister. There, she experienced the love of Christian community and wanted to learn more. After a year’s study of the faith, she embraced it, as her sister had done.

When she shared her new religion with friends, they became upset and told her she was betraying Islam. When Olga told her mother, Olga was warned not to tell anyone, even her own family. Many Christian converts suffer punishment from their families, such as physical beatings, being locked away at home, and confiscation of their Bibles. Kazakh police will not protect Christian converts from persecution, even when a police report is filed. Instead, police often chastise young converts to listen to their parents.

Olga went from popular to an outcast in school, often labeled with derogatory terms. The continuous acts of discrimination and persecution affected her deeply. 

The government was suspicious of Christian beliefs. During Olga’s church meeting, several KNB (National Security Committee) officers arrived and started a case against a foreign missionary, who was later deported. Other Christian leaders in Kazakhstan were placed in jail. 

Olga came to the United States in 2012, but did not apply for asylum until 2016. She lives in the Portland area, is married to a U.S. citizen, and has one child. 

In 2016, LCSNW’s Safe Route Immigration program filed an affirmative asylum application for Olga. Her Safe Route advocate gathered documents, had them translated, and attended the asylum interview. In early 2019, she was granted asylum status.