*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.