In the last couple of months it has become public knowledge that the Supreme Leader of the Guardian Council does not support the President of the country. This conflict has caused turmoil in all aspects of life. The international embargo has devalued the currency and caused inflation to accelerate even more. The cost of living goes higher each day. The cost of ministry has also increased
At the end of February 2012, there will be elections. The moderate party is boycotting the elections. Consequently, the outcome of the elections is already expected to be in favour of the extreme fundamentalists.
Impact on Believers
The Ministry of Culture and Islamic Propaganda has hired several thousand employees to identify Christians and house churches and stop all Christian activity. I personally know three house church leaders who left the country in the last six months as a result. Believers are even more challenged in meeting together. Many are too afraid to meet.
Pastors, church leaders, and also some believers are reluctant to draw any attention to themselves and so they will not come to any conferences. However they are willing to introduce us to individuals who are sincere seekers and who are willing to come to a conference to hear about Christianity. Consequently, we still plan on holding discipleship training events for believers, as well as more in-depth training for church leaders as God allows.
It has also been encouraging that with new technology we have opportunities to distribute not just hard copies of the Bible and New Testament but also digital chips containing the Bible, the Jesus film, and Christian literature.
Praise God for the evangelistic conference in December that was attended by 18 non-Christians and 5 Christians. Together we studied the parables of Jesus and answered many of their questions. They said they had never heard this teaching about Christianity before. On the fifth day, when we asked if any wanted to accept Jesus as their Saviour and Lord, eight people prayed the prayer of salvation.
One of the folks who became a Christian was a 19-year-old woman. Her mother, who always dressed in head coverings, also wanted to become a Christian, but she was afraid that her husband would reject her. She said that she only has her husband and her daughter. She does not want to lose her husband despite the fact that he is a devout Muslim. However she took a New Testament back home with her.
When she arrived home, her husband asked her what she had learned about worshipping three gods. (People in the Persian-speaking world are told that Christians believe in three gods—the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.) The lady countered that this is not what Christians believe, and that she had learned about the one true God. Her husband suggested we had tried to deceive her. She told her husband that if he really wanted to know what Christians believe he should read the New Testament. She gave him the book, and now this man is reading it every night.
A Christian wife came with her non-Christian husband. After a few days this man told his wife that he was happy to be among us Christians because we only talk about God. He sincerely wants to know God. Two days later he became a Christian and took a New Testament home with him. He is diligently studying it and recently wrote to me that he has many questions. He said he is looking forward to studying with us again to have these questions answered.
During the past six months, with the help of WorldShare, we were able to get 400 New Testaments and 150 Bibles into the country. Because of the sensitive nature of distribution, costs are higher. Fifty of the Bibles were delivered to four registered churches to be given as gifts to new believers. The New Testaments were distributed among Muslim-background believers and seekers in four major cities. There are many believers who do not have a personal copy of the New Testament so they are delighted when they receive one. We are working on distributing 500 more New Testaments in the near future.
• For the protection of God’s people in the Persian-speaking world.
• For political leaders of wisdom and religious moderation.
• For the families who continue to suffer in the aftermath of the earthquake.
• Praise God for providing the funds to hold 10 discipleship training events for more than 275 people in 2011.
• Praise God for the Bibles that arrived in the country. Pray for His Word to penetrate the hearts of all who read it.
• Praise God for good health and safety over many miles of travel.
• Praise God for strengthening the faith of our co-workers. Some were arrested, but we are thankful that none were killed.
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