Recently we had a visitor from Elam Ministries come to our church and talk about how Christianity is spreading like wildfire across Iran. Despite fear of arrest, persecution, and even death people are finding a God that is alive and actively working to grow His kingdom. I hope you’ll take some time to listen. It should be posted on my church’s On Demand section of the website. The date was October 28, 2018 in the Power and Influence series.
In one example our speaker talked of a woman who had been arrested because she was spreading the message of Jesus. She had planted 6 churches with a 7th on the horizon. While jailed she was approached by someone (presumably a guard at the prison) who asked her about Jesus saying that his god was dead, but he had heard that her’s was alive. Let me say it again. He had heard that her God was alive. Isn’t that amazing?!?!
I don’t pretend to know about Islam or Muslim religions or customs, but the power and emotion that came of hearing that others are seeing our God – my God – actively working in the lives of people today struck me. In my women’s Bible study recently, one friend spoke of how it took her a long time to come to terms with the fact that the Bible is a story of real people and real events that happened. Isn’t it easy sometimes to minimize the power of an event because you weren’t there to witness it? A friend tells you how amazing a concert was and you totally believe them, but while you’re happy for their wonderful experience you can’t appreciate the power of that experience. In Luke 7 Jesus shows extreme compassion for a woman known in her community to be a sinner (aren’t we all?). While I know this story to be true because I believe the Bible to be true in it’s entirety, it’s hard for me to wrap my head around how this woman felt as she was kissing and anointing Jesus’ feet with perfume and Him and forgiving her sins because He could see how repentant she was through the love she was demonstrating. So much love and grace in a single room. It had to be emotional and powerful.
The people in Iran are hearing of this power and are seeking Jesus out. As our speaker noted, their hearts are hungry for truth. So much so that while illegal to meet at a church, or have a copy of the Bible, or follow Jesus – people are texting their friends and fellow followers of Christ and conducting church from cars while they drive around the city for 1-2 hours praising Jesus, reading the Bible and praying. For those that have homes they are inviting others to come in to have church. There are even stories of people accepting Jesus as their Lord and Savior and having parties to tell their families and friends about him. Can I repeat that this is dangerous for them? It’s illegal. But they know in their heart of hearts that they’ve found something that they have to share; illegal or not.
Here in the states, we often take for granted freedom of religion and the freedoms we have to congregate in mass to worship and celebrate a risen Savior. The miracles that Jesus is performing every day aren’t on Facebook or Instagram so we don’t see or hear about them. Hearing these stories of what is happening in Iran got me fired up. I have the opportunity everyday to sing His praises, to tell others about Him and yet I often only sing when I’m alone and I don’t share Him with others when the greatest gift I could ever give anyone is an eternal life in Heaven.
Honestly, even as I type that I shutter a little. What will my friends think if I start talking about Jesus and asking to pray for them? What will my family think if I start demonstrating actions that don’t align with how I’ve acted in the past? Truth is I am a different person then I was even yesterday. Each moment of each day provides us with the opportunity to do something new, something different. I’d encourage you to think long and hard about those people that don’t want you reaching for new, better versions of yourself and are happiest when you are the same person day-after-day.
Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14
The people of Iran (and I’m sure there are other countries) are literally fighting to learn about Jesus, and here I am wondering what people will think of me if I even talk about Him. Let that soak in a little bit and think about what you can do today, this week, this month to celebrate the Jesus that died for you so that you can have everlasting life. The Jesus that took all of your sins on His shoulders so that you wouldn’t have to bear the weight of a lifetime separated from His perfect love. He loves you and me so much. What will we do or risk to share Him with others?