Sunday, December 11, 2011
Iran: A Persecuted Pastor
The words came from an Iranian pastor who had escaped to the West. In Iran, arrest and police harassment were common experiences. He had even lost his home and job because of his faith. Now he was free to live and worship wherever he wished. How could he long for the days of persecution?
“Sometimes I miss those days,” he said, “because I was so alive. I felt every day that Jesus was with me.”
The pastor had planted a church near the front lines of the Iran-Iraq war. He earned money by driving a taxi and grew his church by sharing Christ with his passengers. In two years, he had won souls from nine language groups. Many soldiers worshipped with them each week, and he had baptized fifteen Muslim converts.
The pastor and his wife counted on God for everything. When the bombs of war fell around them, they prayed for his protection. When there wasn’t enough money, they prayed for his provision. And each day God came through for them.
Their ministry was rewarded. Ten members of his church have gone on to become pastors. Even now, the pastor can see fruit from the time of the ministry at the front lines.
If you’ve never been in love, you cannot understand what it is to be heart-broken. If you have never lost a loved one, you cannot truly relate to those who mourn. You cannot understand the longing for something you have never experienced. Those who have been persecuted for their faith describe a peculiar longing. They long not for the persecution as much as they long for the sense of fellowship their persecution brought them. They don’t miss the torture as much as they miss what the torture taught them. The end result far outweighs the suffering. If you want to experience a deeper walk with Jesus, you must be willing to obediently sacrifice for him. That is also a type of suffering.
Excerpted from Extreme Devotion, a book of 365 true accounts of men and women who totally sold out for Jesus. You can order a copy from our online catalogue or by contacting our office.