Sunday, April 7, 2019 -
I read late last night an article in Voice of the Martyrs magazine, the story of a man in Iran who led a prayer meeting in his home, and was arrested with his wife, son, and four other church leaders, and thrown into prison.
I had been, since the afternoon, very frustrated with myself to the point where I was calling upon God to forgive me for not more forth-rightly sharing the gospel with a man I’d met this afternoon on a bench in the recreational yard. I’d prayed when I began the conversation for God to provide an opportunity to witness to this man, and after an hour-long conversation, that moment never seemed to happen, although I often alluded to the blessings of God and spoke of His mercy and goodness.
And so, I later thought of times where perhaps there was an opportunity to turn the conversation toward the gospel, and so I seemed to have blown the opportunity, although we may meet again.
To encourage me to be bolder, this article told how this group of believers who were in prison witnessed to one inmate after another and began to bear fruit. But they needed the Scriptures, which are strictly forbidden in Iran. And so they called family and friends to write down in English, chapters of the Bible and give them to an imam who visited prisoners regularly. Since neither the imam nor the guards could read English, they thought he was carrying in letters, and soon they had entire books of the Bible they translated into Farsi. They soon made copies for each other.
However their evangelistic efforts angered the guards and separated the Christians, which just spread the gospel still further to other areas of the prison. Because they kept moving them, they soon gained access to most of the prison, including the harshest part of the prison known as “hell.”
After a little over three years, they were released, but they left many hand-written portions of Scripture behind to encourage and disciple the new believers.
At first, I felt guilty for not being the kind of witness to a number of men here and soon realized this was meant to encourage me not to discourage me. I also recognized that in Iran, an Islamic theocracy, most people are very disillusioned with Islam and looking for the truth. Here, most people I’ve spoken to, even if they’ve committed egregious crimes and “talk like a sailor”, insist they are Christian either because they are a good person or were born into a Christian family. Other than one who was already seeking, I have yet to share the plan of salvation with anyone who outright admits they need a Savior. But then, the Holy Spirit must bring them to that point. Then there are the men, like the one I met today, that the opportunity of freedom to share openly or invite them to accept Christ just doesn’t seem to present itself. And I feel badly. I would love to have the boldness and ability to share with everyone I meet the first time I meet them and to be a true evangelist. I can use the excuse that perhaps I’m just not called to be an evangelist, but then I know God has put me here for a reason. Please pray I am able to use each and every opportunity God gives me!