Iranian Christian Shoaib* first contacted us in August 2020, describing himself as a “slave of Jesus Christ”. As the months went on and we received further messages, we realised how total his service for Jesus is. And we are thrilled to learn of hundreds in his province who are finding new life in Christ. These edited versions of his messages tell the story.
When he first got in touch, Shoaib was ill with what seemed like COVID-19. He told us how SAT-7 had been a vital companion during this time.
“Shalom to my dear friends in the Lord Jesus Christ,” Shoaib wrote. “I want to thank every one of you, my dear friends, who work at SAT-7 PARS for all you are doing – all who work on stage, behind the scenes, directors, producers, photographers, cameramen, and all the beloved.
“My best friend, other than my Lord’s Bible in the last six months, has been your channel. Sometimes I have even watched children’s programmes, and there’s no way I would miss any teaching programmes. I continually give thanks that you are there, glorifying the Lord with the little that you have available to you.
“Grappling with death”
“I am Shoaib, a slave of the Lord Jesus Christ. Today I am into the tenth day of an illness that looks like COVID-19. At nights I have a temperature, experience pain and feel numb, but I come back to life in the mornings. Lord knows what kind of illness this is. Hospitals here are very expensive and I can’t afford to pay those kinds of costs, so I feel like I am grappling with death.”
His next words echoed those of the Apostle Paul when he spoke of being torn between longing to go on serving the Church and his desire to be with Christ (Phil. 1:23): “To stay and reach people with the Gospel or to go to the Father’s arms. Thank God I am ready to go and equipped to stay. My trust is in the Lord,” Shoaib said.
Thankfully, the Lord spared Shoaib. A short message, sent five months later, showed that he was active again in sharing the Gospel. He told us that “in one village in our province one out of every three people is a believer. The Lord will complete His work.”
Thirst for the Good News
His next two communications, both sent in February, gave a thrilling glimpse into how the Holy Spirit is working in the area. “I want to share a testimony with you,” he began. “People here in Iran are so keen to hear the word of God that if we could go out and freely distribute Bibles perhaps even 500 a day would not be enough.
“So many are seeking,” he continued. “People are thirsty for the Lord. It isn’t like the early days when we had to go and approach people. [Now] they come and seek us out. They get our telephone numbers and call us so they can hear the word.
“Praise God for this great opportunity to give the Good News. Let us pray together that there will be more servants so that we can reach all the people who are in need and help others to be disciples.
“Please know that the things you say on television have impact; you have viewers and listeners who are affected. Everything bears fruit and in time each blessing will show its fruit. Sometimes it takes less time, sometimes it takes more. Be encouraged that not the smallest grain of your work will be without fruit.
“The truth is that the work of the Lord, especially where I am, is being met with enthusiasm and every day there are more people who want to know the God of Truth. I hope that our behaviour, words, and actions are such that reflect the Lord Jesus Christ. All glory to our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Iranian believers, especially those from a non-Christian background, live with the knowledge that they might be reported to the authorities simply for meeting in house churches or witnessing to others. The results can include arrest, loss of job or education, suspended sentences, exile and imprisonment in harsh conditions including psychological torture.
But Shoaib’s testimony is remarkable. In his latest message, he tells us, “You have to be here to see the intense enthusiasm of believers who are not concerned about what happens.
“We are not afraid. We are careful but not fearful because we are seeking the truth and the Lord is the Truth. We are not seeking martyrdom.”
Hearing of believers being arrested elsewhere spurs him to share the Good News while the opportunity continues. “When we hear of believers arrested in Isfahan in the last few days based on false accusations, we must act,” he says.
“Two or three of us gather daily to worship and glorify God. In the last ten years, I have been to many places and I have seen believers gathering for fellowship and to pray together and have been thoroughly blessed to see them growing, being transformed and walking in humility.
“We are not anxious about anything. At any time and in all circumstances we know victory. Only we need more books and more labourers because the conditions and opportunities for witnessing abound to our hearts’ content.
“I can say with confidence that many of the villages in our province will be [mostly] Christian in the years to come and this is a process that is now in progress.”
Shoaib says the numbers of new believers have increased so much that he cannot visit them all. Here SAT-7’s teaching programmes play a key role, he says in helping seekers becoming “genuine believers”.
He closes by sharing how even practical challenges bring blessings. “Where I live is quite mountainous and I used to have a motorbike which has broken down. So I am forced to go on a public minibus but during these bus journeys I have come across a number of believers. I am grateful to you – may the Lord be your protection.”
- Give thanks for Shoaib and his small number of co-workers. Pray for their safety, gifting and discernment as they travel to share the Good News and strengthen new believers.
- Pray for SAT-7 PARS’ Persian language broadcasters, asking that God will use them greatly in making the Gospel clear and equipping new and established believers.
- Ask that God will give wisdom, peace and reassurance to believers who face threats of arrest and other attacks on their freedom.
*Name changed for security
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