Sharing good news with Iranians abroad.
Below and in front of me lies a mass of city rooftops. No order can be discerned in its chaotic appearance. Clay tiled roofs on the older, shorter buildings compete for sunlight with the flat brown tops of the taller tower blocks, much like young trees in a forest. Below are popular restaurants and behind and above, the citizens are watched by a colossal, mute figure in dark granite with outstretched sword – the giant guardian of the city. Around us tourists chatter, absorbed in capturing a moment for digital posterity. We hear voices in a familiar tongue:
“Noruz Mubarak!”* I call to the eldest of the men in the family group.
“Noruz Mubarak!” he replies with a wide smile and a hint of surprise in his brown eyes.
“Where are you from? America?”
“I’m from America,” one of my team proudly replies, “from California.”
“America! Very good!” he beams, and a conversation begins.
The man has come from Iran with his wife, her sister, his mother–in–law and two of his teenage children to celebrate their New Year. It’s a chance for the family to relax, see the sights and celebrate the coming of spring.
For our part, we are a team of English and Farsi speakers giving a week or two to share the new life that is found by faith in Jesus. We ask if they would like a gift and offer them a small tract. It contains the address of a café where they can hear the gospel from one of the Farsi speakers on the team. It also has a small memory card which contains a Farsi Bible, several videos explaining the Bible’s overall story and much more besides. It is a library the size of a thumbnail.
The offer is received with great appreciation. They say they will visit the café later and we continue to talk. They explain that they don’t agree with everything their government does – far from it. Like many other Iranians, they are spiritually hungry and let down by the broken promises of the Islamic Revolution. We know that their hunger can only be satisfied by Jesus, the Bread of Life.
As the friendly conversation continues, I am reminded that this is just one of many exchanges in a week full of spiritual refreshment. Most encouraging of all has been to hear of so many putting their faith in Christ, going home with digital Christian materials in their pocket and welcoming the opportunity to grow in their knowledge of God in the underground church.
It has also been a week of discovering how God prepares in advance those He brings to Himself: people like Alireza and Nasrin**. Nasrin saw a vision of Jesus shortly before the New Year holiday. When she met one of the team she said, ‘God has sent you to help us.’ They knew that Jesus was in some sense the way to God, but they didn’t know the gospel and wondered what God required of them. Later that afternoon, they came to the café and accepted the good news about Jesus, finding forgiveness and a sure standing with God. Now they want to be baptised.
Then I met Aafreen** as she visited a local church. The Lord had shown her that the answer to her heart’s desire was somehow connected to the God of the Christians. And surely this God would be found in a church? She said that she had been longing to connect with God but couldn’t visit a church in her own country. It was a thrill not only to meet her just a couple of hours before she left the country, but to leave her with a Bible in her own language along with multiple videos and books explaining that Christ is the sole mediator between her and God. It’s these kinds of God–ordained meetings and the sense of being used by Him that stir the souls of all who long to make Jesus known!
The conversation concludes with these amiable acquaintances and it’s time for us to go our separate ways. Hundreds have been witnessed to and many have believed, but even after an extraordinary week like this we remember that so many have yet to hear.
* Happy New Year in Farsi, the main language in Iran.
** Names changed for security