03 27 Newsflashes from the Persecuted Church
Persian Speaking World: Bible Delivery Impacting Lives
Put yourself in the position of a new believer in the Persian Speaking World; you came to Christ through a television show or saw Jesus in a dream. You know that your new religion is not accepted in your country or by your community, yet you are eager to know more. Farsi Bibles are forbidden and therefore scarce. Where would you find a Bible? Where would you find the courage to ask for one if you knew you could be thrown into prison or worse if someone turned you in?
With the help of Open Doors, Bible delivery workers bring large numbers of Bibles and Christian literature to believers who are desperately waiting for them. Last year Open Doors delivered 2.3 million Bibles and biblical materials worldwide. The work is difficult and dangerous, but it is worth it.
Peyman* is one such Bible delivery worker. He is very committed to his job and feels guided by God every step of the way. The enormous hunger for Bibles keeps him going.
“Some groups I delivered Bibles to had already begun copying them by hand because all were eager to have their own personal copy,” Peyman says.
Peyman describes an experience he had with a believer named Ava* and her church. The congregation had come to Christ but they did not have access to Bibles or Christian literature. They began praying for a miracle. One day, Peyman and Ava were both shopping in the same market. Not knowing who he was, she carefully began to evangelize him. After talking for a while, Peyman disclosed that he, too, was a believer. Eventually Ava shared about her church’s need for Bibles.
“I was astonished to find out this group of believers had no Biblical material at all,” he says. The next day, he scheduled a meeting with Ava’s pastor, and a week later he was able to send them a large number of Farsi Bibles and New Testaments.
For the isolated underground church of the Persian Speaking World, the work of Peyman and his fellow Bible delivery workers is of great importance. Ordinarily, Persian speaking believers have to wait years to obtain a Bible. Bibles and Christian literature are essential in discipling believers, encouraging them to grow in their faith, and preventing them from returning to Islam. They are also a source of comfort and strength during difficult times for Secret Believers.
For Dareios*, a secret believer in his 20’s, the Bible came to him at just the right time. Dareios was a drug addict before he came to the Lord but was in the process of quitting. It was during this very difficult and challenging period of his life that he was given his first Bible.
He shares, “When I was in the process of healing from my addiction, I was isolated from everyone; the only friend I had was my Bible.”
While Dareios’ and Ava’s churches now have Bibles, there are still many believers who are faithfully praying for Bibles of their own. Bible delivery workers regularly discover new underground churches, revealing that people in the Persian Speaking World are continuing to come to Christ. Bible delivery work is essential in keeping this movement alive and growing.
*Names changed for security reasons
Syria & Lebanon: Transformation in Midst of Horror
In the midst of the horror and seemingly endless Syrian war, Open Doors sees signs of hope. God is at work in Syria and the refugee camps in bordering countries such as Lebanon. Church leaders, bishops, pastors and lay church members are all being transformed as they come together to reach out to fellow Christians and Muslims with food and other aid….exactly what a church should be doing and exactly the kind of early church model which Open Doors wants to support and strengthen.
Open Doors co-workers and partners working in the refugee camps in Lebanon are finding wonderful examples of this transformation. One Lebanese pastor admits that “I used to hate Syrians.” Now his church is caring for over 750 Syrian families. The church members are providing schooling for the children and have even launched a small clinic.
In the camps in Lebanon, the full horror of the conflict is not difficult to find. Fadi* tells of how he was beaten and given diesel oil transfusions. When he recalls the trauma, he weeps openly in front of his children, which is unusual for a man in that culture. His anguish, he says, is made worse because he feels so impotent to help his family.
Another Christian refugee says he and his wife have lost everything, including their home and business. These are the needy people Open Doors is targeting to support; bringing not only food and shelter, but badly-needed spiritual and trauma support.
In the Bekaa valley of Lebanon tents are crowded with refugees. Muslim women are desperate to tell their stories. Families tell horrific stories about civil war atrocities. There are reports of human trafficking.
But there are also precious new believers in Jesus in the midst of the teeming refugee camps. There is also new unity among the churches in Syria. As a result, the Holy Spirit is using this unity and compassion to break through to the hearts of Muslims.
An Open Doors visitor says: “I discovered churches from different denominations and traditions are coming together to pray. This is wonderful in itself, but they are also uniting in planning relief efforts together.”
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