Lessons from Iran

From a book review by David Mays of Iran: Open Hearts in a Closed Land by Mark Bradley, Authentic, 2007

While the Iranian government is actively strangling the established churches, the underground churches are growing.  Its continued growth is likely for three reasons.  One, it is very secretive and hidden from authorities.  Two, the churches are very active and vibrant.  Most have never been in a church building, so Christianity grows up around the Scripture, spreads by relationships, and takes on natural cultural forms.  Three, new members recognize the urgency of telling others and take on a sense of ownership very quickly.

While Christianity fades in the West, it is flourishing elsewhere…including very difficult places such as Iran where the law stipulates execution for Muslims converting to other religions.  Do you see the lessons Iranian disciples can teach us?

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5 Comments

Filed under church, Islam, Jesus Christ, Kingdom Growth, Middle East, Missions/Evangelism

5 responses to “Lessons from Iran

  1. Bob Chapman

    Dwight,

    The “religion” of Western Christianity is the problem. Religion is comfortable; being the kingdom of God is uncomfortable.

    The personal relationship with the Word of God among disciples in Iran, Pakistan, China etc where “underground” gatherings are flourishing is a replication of soul focused, first century Christianity which generated persecution wherever the “religious” had power. Governments never came against the early church; the “religious” stirred up governments to come against them so that the “religious” could retain power both fiscally and physically.

    The only reason why there is no persecution of believers in the West today is because believers choose to live comfortable, compromising, church-going, “religious lives” among the non-believers they associate with in their workplace, neighbourhood, home, and government.

    Religious church-goers make friends; not converts! Disciples make converts and not friends.

    Non-compromising disciples do not have friends; they have converted associates or non-converted associates. And every relationship true disciples develop is focused on one thing: the eventual salvation of those being related to.

    To a disciple, everyone they meet is considered lost eternally until their enquiries prove otherwise, despite what this evangelising may cost them personally.

    Bob Chapman

  2. dwhitsett

    Friend Bob,
    You always make great comments! Thank you. However, I’m not sure I agree completely about disciples not making friends. I don’t think I have ever truly made a disciple without making a friend also. In fact, they are the best friends I have!
    A quick concordance search for “friend or friends” will demonstrate that Jesus often used the word in a positive context. We are his friends if we do what he commands (John 15:14, 15). 3 John 14,15 seems to indicate that disciples do have friends.

  3. Bob Chapman

    Hi Dwight,

    Recently a sister in Christ who I have known closely for 30 years told me that her friend asked me to visit her in hospital and pray for her as she was not expected to live. The sister had been friends with this woman for nearly 30 years. I had met the friend on several occasions and had witnessed to her during those moments in the presence of the sister in Christ.

    During my hospital visit with the sister’s friend I again witnessed to her, but once again she refused to listen to the gospel.

    Several days after my hospital visit the sister in Christ contacted me and said that her friend was very upset with my witnessing to her and never wanted to see me again; despite the fact she recovered from her illness following prayer.

    The sister then went on to say that she would eventually lead her friend to the Lord and to leave it with her. I said to her that she had been a friend of this lady for nearly 30 years and her friendship with her was more valuable to her than the eternal state of the lady who was dying. To which the sister replied, “Just leave it to me; I’m getting around to sharing the gospel with her my way in my time.”

    To this day the sister in Christ has a friend for this brief life, but not a sister for eternity. The choice is hers — risk the friendship and save a soul, or uphold the friendship and lose a soul.

    Bob

  4. dwhitsett

    Bob
    That’s the trouble, isn’t it? We are so afraid of losing a friendship that we withhold the gospel. In my view, if she loses the friendship with this lady because she tried to share the gospel with her, it was either an immature relationship (not very likely after thirty years) or not much of a friendship in the first place.

    On the other hand, the demise of the friendship means the loss of any possibility of sharing the gospel with her. The problem, it seems to me, is that she has waited too long. A lady very dear to me had a long-standing relationship with her neighbor (a cuppa together every week day) and was finally convicted of the need to share the gospel with her. When she did, the friendship abruptly ended. The lesson here: the matter is urgent…make the most of every opportunity before it is too late (Colossians 4:5,6).
    Friendship and sharing the gospel are not mutually exclusive. Each disciple must examine their relationships with outsiders and ask themselves the question, “Have I made the most of my opportunities?” If we have done the best we know how to do, it is good to preserve the friendship and live as Christ in it. How do we know what God will do with that person? If nothing else, we have someone who is favorably disposed to us and will take our side if necessary. In the process of making disciples, I have made many friends. A good many of them have come to Christ. Some of them have not and may not ever. They are still my friends and they know that I stand in the gospel.

  5. Bob Chapman

    Hi Dwight,

    Our correspondence on this matter has reminded me of that old song we use to sing a lot in which the words “You never mentioned Him to me” resound so powerfully in our hearts and spirits.

    Bob

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