Tag Archives: Iran

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.

Modern Witnesses: Mehdi Forootan

Mehdi Forootan-World Watch Monitor-with caption

This morning in Sunday School, our teacher taught us a verse, Hebrews 12:1. It says that we are surrounded by “so great a cloud of witnesses.” (KJV) I didn’t know what she meant at first, but she explained.

It’s not always easy to live like a Christian. There are days when you just don’t want to do the right thing. Sometimes other people make it really hard for you to do what’s right. And, do you know what? It’s always been that way. Clear back in Bible times, there were times it was hard for the people to live the way they knew God wanted them to. But, the author of Hebrews reminded them to keep their eyes on Jesus. He told them to keep remembering how much Jesus did for us, how He died to save us, and how much He loves us. And because Jesus is stronger than death and lives today, He helps us live for Him.

The book of Hebrews talks about some people in the Bible who were brave and kept trying to do the right thing, even when it was really hard. That’s what it means when it says, “so great a cloud of witnesses.” All those people who have lived for Jesus and kept on trusting Him have proven that it is possible to live for God, no matter what. Sometimes they made mistakes, and sometimes they were sad or scared and wanted to give up. But, they hung in there, and with God’s help, they made it. They lived their lives for God.

Our teacher said that we’re going to spend the next few weeks learning about some of the people who are being brave and living for Jesus today, in places that make it very hard to live for God. The first person she told us about is Mehdi Forootan.

Mehdi lived in Iran. On December 26, 2010, police came to his house early in the morning and arrested him. They dragged him out to a car and turned on a video camera. They had already taken his books and his computer. Now they wanted him to confess to his “crime” on tape.

But, he told them he didn’t know why they were arresting him. He hadn’t done anything wrong. They asked him again, and he told them he didn’t know. Then, they turned the camera off and threatened to hurt him if he didn’t tell them what they wanted him to say. When they turned the camera back on, Mehdi admitted he was a Christian. The police officer gave him a chance to give up being a Christian and follow the religion of the state instead. Mehdi said no. The officer said they would take him to a prison called Evin.

That’s when Mehdi knew things were going to get very bad. He knew some of his Christian friends had been arrested, kept for a short time, and released. He had hoped that was all that would happen to him. Maybe he’d be home later that day. But, when the officer said “Evin,” Mehdi knew he would not be coming home today. He might not ever come home. Evin was one of the worst prisons in all of Iran. Terrible things happened there.

After they got to Evin, they treated Mehdi like a murderer. They locked him up in a tiny cell all by himself. He didn’t have a bed or a chair. All he could sleep on was the cold floor, with just a thin blanket to try to keep warm.

Some days, the guards would come and ask him all kinds of questions. One would threaten to kill him. One would promise everything would be OK if he would just tell the guards what they wanted to know—who were the other Christians he knew, how big was the secret church in Iran, and lots of other things. Mehdi didn’t want to tell them anything that would hurt anyone else.

There were other days when the guards wouldn’t come at all. Day after day after day, Mehdi would just sit by himself in his cell, with no one to talk to. He would try to pray, but he still felt sad and lonely. He missed his parents, his fiancé, and his friends.

Sometimes, he got to talk to other Christians who were in the same part of the prison as he was. A guard might leave him alone for a minute in the hall, and someone would whisper to him from another cell. Finally, after thirty-eight days, the guards moved him to a cell with other people. He told as many of them as he could about Jesus’ love.

Finally, after one hundred and five days in prison (over three months), on April 9, 2011, the guards released him. He still doesn’t know why he was let go. He eventually escaped Iran to the country of Turkey. He and his fiancé were finally able to get married. They were married for two months when she had to leave to live in another country. He hopes they will be able to be together again someday and have a family.

Mehdi knows how hard it can be to live for Jesus. But, with God’s help, he is living for Him each day.

“Dear God, please help Mehdi and his wife be together again soon. Please help all the Christians in Iran who are sad or lonely to trust You. Help them be strong. And, please help each of us to live for You, no matter what. Thank You. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.”

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

The facts of this story are based on a World Watch Monitor news article published on September 6, 2011. For more information, please see my Parents and Educators page.