News has emerged that an imprisoned Iranian pastor is continuing to face torture and could face further charges. “The US Iranian pastor is serving an eight year sentence for his involvement in Iran’s house church movement”.1 Pastor Saeed comes from a Muslim background and has been credited for establishing a number of house churches across Iran. He has been promised freedom if he recants his faith.
Pray for the pastor and his wife and for others who are currently imprisoned for their faith.
Pray for strength and that their witness would even speak to the hearts of the guards within the prison and that the light of Christ would shine through the darkness.
Sign the petition to urge United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to pressure Iran for his release.
Like many thousands before her *Laleh had come to England seeking a better life. She was tired of the country Iran had become and longed for a fresh start where she could be free and valued as a woman. It was hard to leave her community behind but it helped that her husband had travelled to London months previously to set up ‘home’ in readiness for her and their teenage son to arrive.
At first life was exciting but after a couple of years disaster struck when her husband announced that after 16 years of marriage he was divorcing her. Suddenly she was faced with the prospect of living in a ‘foreign’ country with limited English, jobless and with a teenager to educate. This was easily the lowest ebb of her life and she became deeply depressed. Apart from the shame and humiliation of being a divorcee she felt painfully alone and utterly rejected. Some fresh start!
It was at this point that we met Laleh as she had been invited by a friend to come along to the New Life Persian Fellowship, that Amir pastors. In the months that followed she slowly opened up explaining the extent of her anguish and sorrow. We encouraged her to seek out the God of the Bible as he was a personal, loving Father who wanted to carry her burdens and give her rest. One night in her confusion she cried out to God and to Muhammed (just to keep her options covered!) that if they were alive could they reveal themselves. Shortly after this she fell into a deep sleep and had a dream.
Before her she saw a bride and bridegroom yet they were strangely separated by raging waters. The groom was dressed in a purple robe and the bride was desperately trying to do everything she could to be with him. The more she struggled the more futile it all became. Just when all appeared hopeless the groom crossed the river and scooped his beloved up in his arms and they were united at last.
In the Middle East dreams carry great significance so Laleh was eager to speak to Amir to hear just how he would interpret it. After listening carefully he reassured her that The God of the Bible was speaking very specifically into her situation and went on to share what he thought it meant.
The man dressed in purple clearly represented Jesus the Bridegroom and the bride in this case was Laleh .The bride’s attempts to cross the raging river underlined the inadequacy of Islam to reach God. Trying to adhere to its five pillars was not the answer. The groom’s action of scooping her up in his arms spoke of the message of the cross. The penalty of her sin had been dealt with and now all she had to do was rest in this ‘finished’ work by Jesus.
After hearing this explanation Laleh broke down and was clearly moved that God had spoken. In the months that followed she surprisingly withdrew herself from Church life and still hasn’t accepted Christ as Saviour. We still pray for her and visit her on a regular basis and our desire is that one day, in God’s time she will come to find rest in Jesus the bridegroom.
* name changed for security purposes.
Over the next month two very significant events will feature strongly in our calendar and in many ways there’s a common thread of meaning intertwining them.
Nowruz is the name of the Persian New Year and marks the first day of spring. It started on 21st March and will last two weeks. Historically it celebrated that the harshness and bitterness of winter was over and fresh hope was now to be found in the Spring days ahead.
Easter time too marks delivery from a different type of harshness, this time the harshness and drudgery of sin. As we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus we are reminded that true hope is only to be found in him.
It’ll be a busy month of visiting, being visited and exchanging gifts and hospitality but pray amidst it all that we will have many God-centred conversations about the hope in Christ that many no nothing of but need desperately.
We had such a fabulous summer outreach with over 20 participating between 9-16th August 2014.
Many ‘significant’ Gospel conversations were held over the course of the week so please pray for the Holy Spirit to continue to work and bear fruit.