I had a random meeting with a man in the park. My intention was to spend time reading-the day was perfect–not too hot, just a little breezy! I started reading and thinking and was soon interrupted by a man. He ended up asking me questions and wouldn’t stop, so I decided that I needed to put off my plans for a relaxing, quiet sit in the park and just talk to this guy.
Archive for June, 2009
We took two New Testaments and a DVD with us on vacation. At the two hotels where we stayed, we prayed about which people to give these to. It was exciting to think about how God might have already been at work in someone’s life. I really wanted to give a New Testament to the woman who cleaned her room, but I also strongly felt that we should give it to a man (a head of household). Out of all the male hotel workers, there was one that we seemed to connect with more. My husband and I decided to give it to him. Later we found out that the cleaning woman and this man were married! Now they both have his word!
One day at lunch while staying at our second hotel, I saw one of the cleaning women sitting at the next table by herself and invited her to join us. Our young daughter attracts lots of attention so I’m sure that made our new friend even more interested to join us! We soon found out that this woman is the head of the cleaning department at this big hotel. She was intrigued by our prayer of thanks to God for our meal. We found out that she has never read the Bible but that she has been curious! She now has his truth!
One thing I took away from these experiences was to be ready at all times! There was another time that I wished I had had another Bible on me to give to a man we met. God is working. We just don’t know when the next opportunity will come.
Our friend Sedat was still at work late Friday night before our opening Saturday at the studio. He saw my husband and I trying to do the three man job of hanging the art show with just the two of us and he offered to help. As he was helping, he read the text in each painting and had me translate the ones in English for him. I didn’t say anything about the content, but just waited to see his reaction. When we were all done, he turned to me and said, “The colors are beautiful, but the words make the paintings full and meaningful. God is the only perfect thing and you are telling us that in the words. God is our comfort and you are telling us that in the words. God takes care of us and you are telling us that in the words. Thank you for reminding us of the most important thing. When I come here to the studio I leave feeling closer to God.”
My husband and I nodded in agreement and I went on to tell him that the words came out of the Bible and that he is right, the paintings tell us who God is. Sedat has heard the gospel from us, he knows we are followers of Jesus. Right now, he thinks we worship the same God. Please pray for more opportunities to show him the difference.
The Country Manager for a major delivery service in Turkey gave us the services of his van and driver for two days in May to take a volunteer team to various tour sites. Since I sat in the front seat with the driver, Fatih, I talked with him a great deal in Turkish because he knew no English. We talked about many things, focusing on our religious beliefs. We talked at length about Jesus, and Fatih told me what he knows and believes about Jesus. Then I shared what I know and believe about Jesus, basically telling him the gospel story.
As is common, we got into the usual Turkish conversation about the “Bible being changed,” and I told him that it had not been changed and that everything it said about Jesus was true. I told him that historical research and documents, archeological findings, and the fact that there were several hundred witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection which all prove that the current-day Bible is the same as the original documents written in the first century. His response was “I did not know that,” which opened up the fact that what he had been taught and knew concerning the Bible could possibly be erroneous information.
We also talked about many other aspects of this subject. Fatih told me that he had read the New Testament before, but he meant that he had read the four gospels, and not any of the other New Testament literature. I told him that it would be very enlightening for him to read the complete New Testament and that if he wanted, I could get one for him. He said that he would like that, so I will contact him to get together again soon and give him a complete New Testament, and later a complete Bible. He seemed very interested in meeting again, so, when I’m free from volunteer team responsibilities, I will arrange to meet with him on his day off from his job.
Iran’s hope for change seems to be buried under the brutal suppression of the regime. The media’s fascination with the potential revolution’s icon, Neda has turned to a pop star icon and the people of Iran seem to be more isolated than ever.
The voices that demanded change will now have to answer for their “crimes” of protest. Some believe that Iran is a volcano that will remain dormant for a short time before erupting again. Others believe that life there will be more miserable than ever.
I have tried to contact my friends inside of Iran through Skype and my messages remain disturbingly unanswered. My conversation with Iranian friends locally has turned from giddiness to deep concern and a pessimistic resignation.
As Iran’s leaders blame the recent unrest on the forces of Europe and America, life will doubtlessly become more difficult for Iran’s citizens. The spotlight will glare on those already suspected of being agents for America—Iran’s Christians.
In the past year there has been a crackdown on Iran’s Christian community. Arrests have spiked in recent months and nearly every case has been treated as threats to national security. One house church pastor was jailed for several months while being falsely accused of spying for the American government. The pastor, along with hundreds of Christians have fled Iran fearing for their lives and safety.
One Iranian minister believes that the number of Iranian refugees will increase significantly in the days to come. He added, “I can’t blame them, because life will be so much worse for them and their families.”
Still, there will remain Christians in Iran, willing to give their reason for hope in hopeless days. They will be convenient scapegoats for the government and targets of persecution. Now more than ever they will need the prayers of the church worldwide.
Those prayers will sustain the believers during difficult times. One pastor living there once said, “We feel the prayers of the world. “ He compared it to Moses holding his arms up during the battle against the Amelekite army. Whenever Moses lowered his arms the Israelites would begin to lose the battle. Moses had Aaron and Hur support his arms. “Your prayers keep my arms up in my battle.”
The arms of Iran’s Christians are lowering, but your prayers will keep them lifted in spite of the powerful opposition. The voices of our brothers and sisters have been silenced; ours have not.
Two weeks ago, Iran’s citizens were full of hope; today they find themselves in chaos and turmoil… and possibly at a crossroads.
Eighty five percent of the voting population turned out to make a statement with their votes only to have their voice taken away under very suspicious circumstances. The apparent corruption of the election caused millions of Iranians of all classes to spill out into the streets to protest what they believed to be a rigged election.
Among the stories that were swirling in Iran is that Iran’s Minister of the Interior met with reformist candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi to congratulate him on being elected the new president. Hours later, the incumbent and controversial Mahmud Ahmadinejad was declared the winner with more than 60 percent of the vote.
The “final” count was done in a few hours. I have traveled in some of Iran’s hinterlands and literally had the bill for my meal figured on an abacus. It seems impossible that 40 million votes from the entire country could be tabulated in a few hours.
I spoke with a friend who has family and loved ones in Iran. He said that Christians there are already under pressure and if Ahmadinejad is allowed to remain president they will leave Iran in droves. He added that those believers who remain will be forced to go even further underground.
Many analysts feel that the mass protests are against Ahmadinejad and not against the Islamic regime. My Iranian friend, Reza* believes that this could be the tipping point that will lead to the fall of the government. He said to me, “The church in Iran needs to do more than just vote; they should be out in the streets with their neighbors. They need to show that they care about Iran.”
The church has played a key role in fighting against tyranny throughout history and perhaps it is time for Iran’s church to actively join the struggle. The Iranian church must balance itself between peace and combat. Being silent sends a message of unconcern while radicalism makes them a bigger enemy of the state. Reza said, “Iranian Christians already are the biggest enemy of the Iranian state.”
If this is indeed the death rattle of the regime, my friend believes that the church could play an invaluable role in Iran’s healing process. Reza says that the message of God’s forgiveness and love will be a desperately needed salve to a deeply wounded nation.
The Church worldwide can join their Iranian brothers and sisters by praying for them… now more than ever they need to know that they are not fighting the “good fight” by themselves.
Claims of fraudulent counting in last week’s national presidential elections have lead to violence in much of Iran. Reports of protests and violence are coming from all over the country.
Please pray for peace in Iran.
Please pray that justice and truth will reign.
Times Online Article
New York Times Article
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