Radical faith in the underground church - 1
Following on from the interest in the article on the move of God among Iranians - Are we willing to pay a price?, I listened into an interview with a pastor from that region:
Recently, “Pastor X” from Iran agreed to be interviewed to uncover why the church is exploding in one of the most dangerous places to be a Christian - and how we can join them in engaging the lost in our own communities. He has catalysed disciple-making movements throughout the Middle East.
As the interviewer explained, "We, [in western countries], are at a time where it feels like it's easy to get discouraged, it's easy to conclude that Christian faith is shrinking, that Church attendance is declining, that the future is unclear, that we are losing some of our influence and our beliefs are being overridden. Could lessons from the fastest growing church in one of the 10 most dangerous countries for a Christian to live change our perspective on our circumstances, our passion and our calling to the mission of God?"
"God is moving powerfully inside of Iran. The Iranian people are meeting Jesus through dreams and visions and power encounters. There are an estimated 1 million believers in Iran alone. Men and women in the underground church are bringing the gospel to people who have experienced Jesus for themselves. This church movement has no bank account, no charitable status, no centralized leadership, no denominations, no church buildings or seminaries and if any one of them is caught they could be executed or at the least put in prison and yet it is exploding. It's currently being led by former prostitutes, drug lords, Islamic radicals and many of the leaders are women."
I've split abridged insights into several posts due to volume:
I was born in a western country. At the age of 9, I came to Jesus through the Bible - very simple, nothing supernatural, just a simple prayer as a child believing Jesus as saviour. When I was 16, I left the church - I was so upset and jaded by church because I just felt like it was a clique. It didn't have that community so I tried to find community through friends and they introduced me to drugs. I started doing and selling drugs and doing a lot of things I thought would bring me happiness but it just brought me complete depression.
I was at a party and the Lord spoke to me and said, "I didn't create you to destroy." and so very soon after that, I cleaned up my life and I started going back to church. My life is basically about simple obedience and the key thing is simple obedience can change the whole trajectory of your life.
My wife was a radical Muslim - at the age of three, she wore the burqa, at the age of five, started reading the Quran, at the age of nine, memorized the Quran, at the age of 13, was so in love with God that they took her out of school and put her in the Islamic fundamentalist school, at the age of 17, she became an evangelist for Islam - like the religious police in the country that she's in.
At the age of 23, she had a personal heartbreak and wanted to kill herself. At the same time, her mother was diagnosed with MS. She told her mother, "Look you're dying. I want to kill myself. Let's kill each other." So they made a suicide pact. On a Thursday night, they kicked the father and sister out and prepare to take sleeping pills and turn on the natural gas. They turn on the TV and there is a Christian satellite broadcast. The pastor said, "My brothers and sisters, why do you want to kill yourself tonight? Jesus wants to change your life."
She was so taken back by that she determined to call this program and prove to them their Jesus is dead and and then kill herself. So they called the program and her mum speaks to the pastor and after about 20 minutes, she comes to Christ. My wife was furious, "How dare you blaspheme Muhammad!" She's about to kill herself and her mum says, "Before you kill yourself, my last wish is that you talk to the pastor." So she talks to the pastor and after two hours, the pastor could not convince her to come to Christ. So he said this, "So you've served Allah all your life and the fruit of it is that you're suicidal, depressed and you want to kill yourself. Give Jesus one week and if he doesn't do anything for you, go ahead and kill yourself."
So my wife took the challenge. She prayed the sinner's prayer. She said, "I'll do this stupid prayer then live on satellite with a gun I will kill myself to prove their Jesus is dead. Amen." So she hangs up the phone and at 5am in the morning, she hears her mum screaming and she jumps up thinking the MS has hit her lungs and she sees her mum walking perfectly in the house. So they run to the hospital and they do blood work and MRI and there's no MS in her mum's body. So they asked my wife, "Who did you pray to?" and she said, "I didn't pray to anyone except Jesus." and so immediately she brings five people to Christ right there.
So the next week, she calls the pastor and says, "I was the girl that wanted to embarrass Jesus but Jesus embarrassed me. Now I've brought five people to Christ, what do I do with them?"
Meanwhile before I married my wife, I had my life in a western country. I had everything a person could dream of in a western country. A house, a great paying job, cars, money. I had everything but I wasn't happy. I met my wife and brought her from the country she was in to this western country. I gave her the great life, the abundant life and after two months, she comes up to me and says, "I'm depressed." I asked, "How are you depressed? You came from a third world country. We're now in a first world country." She says, "Because the church here is under a satanic lullaby and I'm falling asleep. Every time I try to wake up the lullaby increases. Let's go back to my country."
I was so shocked by that statement but we left everything and went.
To be continued...
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