Every now and then I read and hear a story that really requires no introduction or set-up but just a strong recommendation to follow a link and see for yourself. This is one of those stories from the Overseas Council website. It was just posted a few days ago so it is time relevant and very moving.
A STORY OF TRUE COURAGE
The story is about Ladan, a courageous young woman that is Iranian born; raised in a Muslim family; called to Christ; and fearing arrest, left her homeland and fled to Turkey.
“It was there in Turkey that I felt the burden; a great a burden to go and tell people about Jesus. I was tasting the love of Jesus more, and also knowing Him more.”
To Ladan, to be Christian meant to take the Word seriously and return to her native country to share the Gospel with her countrymen. She knew she would face persecution, possibly prison and maybe even death. But nevertheless, she felt the call of God to share the Good News with lost people.
“Even with all my fears and worry, I felt I had to return to Iran, and give this message to my people.”
To learn about Ladan and hear her testimony in her own words in a 9 minute video, I highly encourage you to go to http://overseas.org/ladan-courageously-endures-prison-for-sharing-the-bible/. You’ll be moved by her story as she truly reflects the words of Jesus in Luke 21:12-16.
But before all this, they will lay hands on you and persecute you. They will deliver you to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. This will result in your being witnesses to them. But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death.
THE HISTORICAL CHURCH IN IRAN
Iran is on the news much these days concerning nuclear power, economic sanctions, aggressive behavior and a host of stories of terrorism. We hear little about the Christians there despite the fact that Christians have occupied the area for centuries. According to Acts 2:9 there were Persians, Parthians and Medes among the gathering at Pentecost and heard the Apostles in their own language. Many old churches remain in Iran from the early days of Christianity. The Church of St. Mary in northwestern Iran for example, is considered by some historians to be the second oldest church in Christendom after the Church of Bethlehem in the West Bank.
Today, only about 2% of the population is non-Muslim, and Christians are among the least minority. But the good news is that Christianity is reported to be the fastest growing religion in Iran. In 1976, the Christian population numbered 168,593 people, mostly Armenians. Due to the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s and the dissolution of the Soviet Union in the 1990s, almost half of the Armenians migrated to the newly independent Republic of Armenia and Christian numbers decreased. However, the opposite trend has occurred since 2000, and the number of Christians with Iranian citizenship increased to 109,415 in 2006.*
*Some fact and figures obtained from wikipedia.org