Radical faith in the underground church - 2
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.
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?
Part 1 of this series is here.
Pastor X continues his story:
When I first went into the country and all over the Middle East, we would talk about Jesus and 8 out of 10 people will come to Christ right then and there. Jesus is coming in dreams, visions and power encounters. We're just the clean-up crew. This is revival happening in the Middle East. Jesus is going after these people in Muslim nations because, when I look at a Muslim, I see a passionate person in love with God but the wrong god. And so we have all these Saul to Paul experiences like my wife. Once she found out the real God was Christ [see previous article], she's ready to die for him now.
Then very hard persecution came. All of a sudden we were in all these cities and then we started to lose the cities, we started losing the churches, we started losing leaders and members and I became very upset and almost became depressed. I would read the book of Acts and ask the Lord, "Why is persecution reducing the Church?" Finally the Lord answers me, "You made converts not disciples. Converts will run away from me in persecution. Disciples will die for me."
That's what we do right now. We take people on a journey of discipleship from the first moment I see them. What's the difference in a convert and a disciple? A convert basically knows Jesus as Saviour but not as King. A disciple knows that, first, Jesus is King and then Saviour because when you know he's King and he's the only one who's leading you, then you're willing to die for him because you trust him.
Even in the worst situation you're watching mountains move, you're watching miracles happen, you're watching the impossible happen. Your life is on the line there. There's a million reasons that you should be afraid but you are sure what are you so sure of. You only have one life to live. What's 20 years of persecution or even torture compared to eternity with Jesus. I'm a fool in love. Do you fear death? Of course, who doesn't. I still have fears, I still have ups and downs but you just have to keep having a child-like faith a simple faith. What scares me most is breaking Jesus's heart. I should say it like this - God forbid that one day I see him and he says, "I don't know you.".
There's a cost to following Christ in the Middle East. In the Islamic countries if you get baptized or if you're doing the baptism, it's straight execution so as you love people to Jesus, you could be loving them to their physical death on earth. Death is just the gateway into eternal life. I always tell people we're family on the other side of eternity and this side of eternity too. When Muslims die, they get upset as they never know if they're going to see their loved ones again but in Christ we know we will see our loved ones again. We don't really say goodbye, we just kind of say, see you later.
The joke between me and my wife [who was a radical Muslim] is that she's never seen the sun because she was either in the mosque or in the house. She followed all the rules perfectly but never felt God. People are leaving Islam because they want a personal relationship with God and they're not finding it.
Let me describe an example of people truly encountering Jesus in a vision or dream. I was in this city and one of my leaders says, "You have to hear this story." So we go to visit a man who lives in a mud hut. There's no satellite, there's no internet, no electricity, no gas. He says to me, "A man wearing all white comes to my house every night and he tells me to write these things down.". So he gives me his notebook and I open it at page 1 and it says this, "In the beginning was the Word and the Word became flesh...". He had the whole book of John in his notebook. Jesus came every night to his house and he wrote the whole book of John. The first thing I thought was, "Can you pray for me. Whatever you're doing to have Jesus come and see you, I would love him to see me again!"
I want to talk about the leaders that are leading this movement. When I met my wife, she already had 250 people in 25 house churches in five cities. This is not about being a woman's movement. It is empowering women to rise up to an Esther or Deborah call. One of the people we have on the
team is an ex-prostitute. She's had a very hard life and she became a prostitute but she had a power encounter with Christ and her heart was actually for other prostitutes and so she's been leading other prostitutes to Jesus. Men and women leading together. There's no denominations, no divisions. Persecution makes you focus on the main thing which is to bring people to Jesus not theology. The thief on the cross went to heaven without knowing any theology. Doctrine, dogma and theology complicates the most simple way of following Jesus which is obeying his voice.
What is the Lord saying to you? Are you listening to him? God will never give you a new word if you're not listening, if you're not obeying his last word. A lot of people in the western church are afraid of the idea of the Holy Spirit. The idea feels too wild and not contained and in many cases has been abused. It feels safer to stick to tight doctrine. If one just goes out with just the truth but without the power of God.. If we don't pray, fast and don't have the Lord with us, we're going to get arrested.
Ask the Lord to touch you. I believe with all my heart the Lord will touch you in a very powerful way, in a very supernatural way. Once again I would go back to just listening to that inner voice or spontaneous thoughts that come into your mind and not disqualifying it or belittling it. Have a simple faith. It's about relationship. God wants to hear your voice, he wants us to speak to him. It's a relationship. He's our father, he's our best friend. It says in John, my sheep hear my voice.
You will know what to do by the spirit of God like a million disciples in the Middle East who are obeying God. The simplest way I can tell you about this model is 'go and find'. We need to go and find those people that Jesus has made ready to hear the gospel.
To be continued...
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