Category Archives: Iran

Modern Witnesses: Zafar and Zhang

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*If you’d like to read the first post in the Modern Witnesses series, click here.

This morning, our Sunday School teacher told us about four men who are in prison because of their faith in Jesus. Their names are Zafar Bhatti, Zhang Huamei, Naser Zamen-Dezfuli, and Gao Zhisheng.

Zafar Bhatti is from Pakistan. He was arrested in July 2012 because someone accused him of sending text messages that insulted the religion of most of the people in Pakistan. He has been in prison more than 400 days.

Zhang Huamei is from China. He and four other ministers were arrested in 2009. A mob of people—including police—had attacked members of a Christian church. When Zhang Huamei and the four other ministers tried to go to Beijing to protest the attack on the other Christians, they were arrested. Zhang is still in jail today. He has been in jail more than 1,300 days.

Naser Zamen-Dezfuli is from Iran. He was a pastor at a church in Ahvaz and was arrested when his congregation met for a church service in December, 2011. In February, 2012, he was allowed out on temporary bail, but in October, he was arrested again. He was sentenced to a year in jail and has been there more than 100 days.

Gao Zhisheng is also from China. He has been arrested and put in jail so many times no one knows exactly how many days he has been in prison. He is a Christian, and he has fought for the rights of Christians in China. He has been treated terribly in prison, and his family doesn’t even know where he is all of the time.

These four men, and so many men and women like them, are suffering because they love Jesus and they want the whole world to know that Jesus died on the cross to pay for the mistakes each of us makes. They want them to know that He came back to life again three days later. So many people saw Him—even people who didn’t believe in Him!

We talked again this morning about Hebrews 12:1. It says that we are surrounded by “so great a cloud of witnesses.” (KJV) It is talking about people who are brave and do the right thing for God, even when it is terribly hard. They keep trusting Him to take care of them. They make mistakes, and they get sad and scared and want to give up. But they hang in there and they live their lives for God. And in the end, they know they will live with Him forever in Heaven.

“Dear God, please help me to be brave and live for You, no matter what happens. Help me trust You to make things work out right in the end, even if things right now seem awful. Help everyone who is suffering because of their belief in You, and please help their families who miss them. Please help Zafar Bhatti, Zhang Huamei, Naser Zamen-Dezfuli, and Gao Zhisheng to stay strong. Please keep them safe and bring them home to their families soon. Thank You. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.”

For a printable version of today’s story, click here.

If you’d like to send a letter to Zafar Bhatti, Zhang Huamei, Naser Zamen-Dezfuli, and Gao Zhisheng to let them know you are praying for them, ask a parent if they can help you do that on http://www.prisoneralert.com/.

Blogging Through the Alphabet

Modern Witnesses: Mother Tongue Pastors

World Watch Monitor May 30, 2013 Assemblies of God church in Tehran

*If you’d like to read the first post in the Modern Witnesses series, click here.

This week, our Sunday School teacher taught us about a church in Iran that needs our prayers. But first, she said she needed to tell us what the term “mother tongue” meant. What do you think the words “mother tongue” mean?

I wasn’t really sure until she explained it. It’s the language you know the best. When a thought comes into your heart, what language is it in? When you pray or talk to someone you love, what language do you use? That’s your heart language or your mother tongue. Lots of times it’s the language your parents speak that they learned when they were young.

Many people know some words in another language—or even a couple of different languages. Even if your mother tongue is English, you’ve probably heard words like “buenos dias” and “bonjour.” But that’s not the language you know the best, the one you really understand. So for people to truly understand the stories in the Bible, to hear and understand that God loves them and sent Jesus to die for them, they need to be able to hear those stories in their mother tongue, in their heart language.

In Iran, many of the people speak Farsi, which is a dialect of Persian, the mother tongue of the majority of Iran’s people. But the Iranian government doesn’t want churches to preach in Farsi. They want them to only preach in a language that is understood by a smaller number of people. The Assemblies of God church in Tehran, the capital of Iran, doesn’t want to stop preaching in Farsi. They know that all the people in Iran need to hear about Jesus’ love for them. So they kept preaching in Farsi even after the government ordered them to stop.

On May 21, one of the churches leaders, Pastor Robert Asseriyan was arrested and sent to Evin prison, one of the worst prisons in Iran. Someone hung a sign on the door of the church that said the church was closed due to “major repairs” and told the people not to come back.

Pastor Asseriyan misses his family, and he doesn’t know what will happen to him next. The church misses their pastor. The government has said that if the church stops preaching in Farsi, they will consider releasing the pastor.

Now the church in Tehran, and the other churches across Iran that preach in Farsi, have to make a very difficult and dangerous decision. Do they keep trying to preach in Farsi, so that all the people of Iran can hear about Jesus? Or do they stop? Do they stay open or do they close? What do you think you would do?

“Dear God, the churches in Iran are facing a really hard and scary decision. Please help each one to do whatever You want them to do. Help them be wise and brave. Please help Pastor Asseriyan, his family, and his church to trust You and love You no matter what. Comfort them and help them when they hurt. Please help everyone in Iran, no matter what language they speak, to hear about Jesus’ love and understand. Help them each to believe in You. Thank You. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.”

The facts of this story are based on World Watch Monitor news articles published on May 30, 2013. For more information, please see my Parents and Educators page.

If you’d like a printable version of today’s story, click here.

Blogging Through the Alphabet

Modern Witnesses: Iran

Musical score notes

*If you’d like to read the first post in the Modern Witnesses series, click here.

Do you remember a few weeks ago when we learned about Farshid Fathi in Sunday School? He’s a husband and father in Iran who is in prison because of his faith in Jesus. Have you prayed for him and sent him a letter?

Today, our Sunday School teacher taught us more about what life is like for Christians in Iran. This time, she shared a story with us that she wrote about a girl named Yasmin. Yasmin’s family was arrested, and she had to go into hiding because they loved Jesus. Her story isn’t true, it’s not written about someone who really lives in Iran like Farshid Fathi, but it is based on things that have happened to Christians in Iran that have been reported in the news. You can read Yasmin’s Silent Song here.

Let’s keep praying for Christians in Iran, that God would help them be brave and keep them safe.

“Dear God, thank you for the freedom to sing and worship. Please be with and take care of all the Christians who live in places where that is illegal. Encourage them and help them wait patiently for the day when no one will keep them from singing to You. Thank You. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.”

Blogging Through the Alphabet

Modern Witnesses: Farshid Fathi

Iran map

*If you’d like to read the first post in the Modern Witnesses series, click here.

This week, our Sunday School teacher taught us about another brave Christian who is serving God even though it is very hard and painful. His name is Farshid Fathi, and he lives in Iran.

Farshid was arrested on the day after Christmas in 2010, and he has been in jail ever since. He is a Christian and was sentenced to jail because of his faith in Jesus. He has been treated very badly, and he misses his family very much. But he hasn’t given up. He keeps on loving God and telling others about Him whenever he can. Sometimes, the jail puts him in a cell all by himself where he can’t talk to anyone. Even then, Farshid knows that he can still talk to God and that God will never ever leave him alone.

Farshid has a wife and two children who miss him very much. They know they might not see Farshid for many years.

Did you know that there are ways we can help Farshid? We can pray for him and his family, that God will continue to take care of each of them. Pray that they keep trusting God and doing what He says, and pray that many people will see God’s love in them and want to know more about God.

We can also send Farshid letters to let him know that Christians are praying for him and that we haven’t forgotten about him. Check out How to Be a Superhero in Twelve Easy Steps for why sending letters is important and how you can help.

I’m going to pray for Farshid, his family, and all the Christians in Iran right now. Will you pray with me?

“Dear God, please help the Christians in Iran to not be afraid. Help them remember that You never forget them. And, please help us not to forget about them, either. Help them be strong and continue to tell others about Your love. And, please help Farshid and his family. Thank You. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.”

For more information on where you can find Farshid’s story online, please see my Parents and Educators page.

If you’d like a printable version of today’s story, click here.

Blogging Through the Alphabet

Modern Witnesses: February 2013

Modern Witnesses-February 2013 image

*If you’d like to read the first post in the Modern Witnesses series, click here.

So far this month, our Sunday School teacher has told us the stories of three people who have suffered because they believe in Jesus. We met Saeed Abedini, who was arrested in Iran and sentenced to eight years in Iran’s worst jail. He misses his wife, Naghmeh, and his two children, Rebekkah and Jacob, terribly.  We met Shijo Kokkattu, a Christian teacher from India who was working in Maldives. Even though he was a good teacher, he was arrested when school officials found Christian materials on his computer. They kept him in jail for over two weeks, then sent him home to India. And we met Makset Djabbarbergenov from Uzbekistan. After he was arrested and persecuted in Uzbekistan, he and his family fled to Kazakhstan. But last fall, Kazakhstan arrested him and put him in jail. They said they were going to send him back to jail in Uzbekistan. Finally, after several months, he and his family were allowed to leave Kazakhstan and move to another country.

We talked about all three men this morning, their families, and their homelands. Had we remembered to pray for Saeed, Shijo, and Makset? Had we remembered to pray for Saeed’s wife Naghmeh and Makset’s wife Aygul? What about Iran, Maldives, and Uzbekistan? Had we remembered to ask God to help the Christians who live there to be strong and brave, no matter what? Did we pray and ask God to help the people who don’t understand how much He loves them?

What about us? Have we asked God to help us be brave when people mistreat us because we love Jesus and try to do what He says?

We colored a picture that we can use to help us remember to pray for them. If you’d like to color one yourself, you can find it here.

Modern Witnesses: Saeed Abedini

Iran map

*If you’d like to read the first post in the Modern Witnesses series, click here.

This week, our Sunday School teacher taught us about another brave Christian who is serving God even though it is very hard and painful. His name is Saeed Abedini. He has a wife named Naghmeh, and two little children. Rebekkah is six and Jacob is four.

Saeed was born in Iran. In 2000, he became a Christian and started to help build house churches in Iran. He met Nagmeh, who had also been born in Iran but had moved to the United States with her family when she was a little girl. Nagmeh went back to Iran to visit family, met Saeed, and they fell in love. They got married in 2004 and stayed in Iran together until 2005, when Saeed was arrested and questioned for his work in spreading the news about Jesus Christ to Iranians.

They moved to the United States, and Saeed became a citizen of the United States, just like his wife had when she was younger. They had two children, Rebekkah and Jacob. Saeed made an agreement with Iran that he could continue to come into the country to work on building an orphanage. He traveled back and forth from the United States many times.

But the last time he visited Iran, in September, soldiers came onto the bus he was riding in and dragged him off of it. They took away his passports and threw him into prison. They have beat him, kept him away from other people, and told him many lies. Sometimes, they let him talk to his wife on a cell phone.

He was put on trial on January 21 and sentenced to eight years in Iran’s worst jail. He was told he would not be allowed to talk to his wife and family any more. He misses her and his children. The prison, called Evin, is so terrible that some do not think he can live for eight years there.

His lawyer is trying to file an appeal, but the laws in Iran are not fair or just. Saeed and his family do not know what will happen, or if he will ever be allowed to come home to the United States.

I’m going to pray for Saeed Abedini, his wife Naghmeh, and their kids Rebekkah and Jacob. I want to pray for all the Christians in Iran, too. Will you pray with me?

“Dear God, please help Saeed, Naghmeh, Rebekkah, and Jacob. Help them to be strong and trust You no matter what happens. Please take care of each of them. And please help everyone in Iran to hear about Your love and trust You. Please help the government officials and lawyers in the United States, who can help Saeed, to work to have him released so he can come home. Thank You. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.”

The facts of this story are based on World Watch Monitor news articles published on January 18, 2013, and January 29, 2013. For more information, please see my Parents and Educators page.

If you’d like a printable copy of today’s story, click here.

Modern Witnesses: January 2013

Modern Witnesses-January 2013 activity sheet image

*If you’d like to read the first post in the Modern Witnesses series, click here.

So far this month, our Sunday School teacher has told us the stories of three people who have suffered because they believe in Jesus. We met Mehdi Forootan who was put in jail in Iran because of his faith in Jesus. He was in prison for one hundred and five days before he was allowed to go home. We met Nguyen Thi Lan, a woman in Vietnam, who was hurt very badly in an attack. Then she was turned away and not taken care of at the hospital. And we met Gamal Abdou Massoud, a teenager in Egypt who was sent to jail on charges no one could prove were true.

This morning, we talked more about them and their homelands. Had we remembered to pray for Mehdi, Nguyen Thi Lan, and Gamal this month? Had we remembered to pray for Iran, Vietnam, and Egypt? And had we asked God to help us be brave when it is hard to obey Him and do what He says?

We colored a picture that we can use to help us remember to pray for them. If you’d like to color one yourself, you can find it here.