BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan -- On April 6, 2010, anti-government protestors fueled a revolution that ended the five-year reign of Kyrgyzstan President Kurmanbek Bakiyev.
The next day, government troops responded with gunfire, leaving at least 88 people dead.
The events of that week not only changed the country, but also the life of Christian judge Anarkul Toksobayeva.
"My pastor told me ‘God did this revolution for you,’” she said.
Toksobayeva sought righteousness with her rulings and often went against Bakiyev – a task that wasn’t easy since government officials in the country often mandated court decisions.
"I especially remember two cases. One of them they actually asked me to make someone guilty and I was quite sure he was innocent,” Toksobayeva recalled. “The other one was to make innocent someone whom I was certain was guilty.”
“So, I especially prayed in this situation because they also called me to the upper floor and they told me that I was supposed to decide in this way,” she continued.
Toksobayeva's Communist family raised her as an atheist. Though Kyrgyzstan is a Muslim nation, many Kyrgyz embrace Christianity. Toksobayeva was among those who eventually came to know Christ.
Standing for What’s Right
Toksobayeva’s faith pushed her to make just rulings and she often urged fellow judges to reject the corrupt demands of government officials.
“[One day] I opened my Bible in front of the other two judges – non-believers – and I started to read it and pray aloud. I prayed and read the Bible out loud for 40 minutes,” Toksobayeva said. “My colleagues looked at me as if I were crazy."
That stand led to trouble with the Bakiyev government. She said officials planted money in her office and then accused her of taking a bribe.
"Of course the main reason why they did it to me was they wanted to remove me because I was not following their unjust orders,” Toksobayeva said. “I said ‘you cannot do anything to me. I'm afraid of God, but I am not afraid of you.’”
A four-year legal battle followed. She ultimately lost her case at the appellate court this year on April 6 – the day the Kyrgyzstan revolution started.
“I had no idea on what happened to Bakiyev and the politics until the next evening,” Toksobayeva explained. "I had a phone call from someone and they told me that Bakiyev left. I was praising the Lord, thanking Him for all this."
In early June, with the president and many of his cronies out of power, the Supreme Court finally ruled there was no evidence against Toksobayeva and she was acquitted.
During the trial, she said the Old Testament book of Job brought encouragement.
“He was like my companion in my difficult time. I understood that we need to hold on and become steady and persevere through all these hardships and troubles,” Toksobayeva said.
Picking up the Pieces
The people of Kyrgyzstan suffered more hardship in mid-June. Attacks by Bakiyev loyalists against ethnic Uzbeks in the south of the country forced 400,000 people from their homes. As many as 2,000 people were killed.
Some Uzbeks have returned to their villages, but many are afraid violence could flare up again.
Still, the people are optimistic for the future.
Voters recently agreed to change the constitution, giving their parliament and prime minister greater power. Parliamentary elections will be held in October.
As the nation presses toward democracy, Toksobayeva called on Christians to pray for righteous reform, honest leaders, and independent judges.
"I know the Lord is master chief of every power,” Toksobayeva said. “I am amazed at how almighty He is.”
“He can change things in a minute.,” she added. “And He's never late."