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‘The Church in Iran Needs a John Calvin and a Martin Luther’

TGC missions partner David recently shared this brief story of his Iranian friend (referred to as Ali for security purposes) that shows how God is using the TGC Farsi website and resources to grow the church in Iran:

I met a new Christian—an Iranian refugee—on the streets of Athens. Ali had a genuine eagerness to grow in his faith. While many refugees exploit Christianity through fake conversations to gain special help, Ali was not interested in personal gain. He wanted to know Jesus and tell others about him. I was struck by his humility.

My Farsi was not good, and Ali’s English was even worse, but he had time, and I am a missionary. At first, we spent hours daily trying to figure out what the other was saying. As our communication improved our relationship grew stronger as brothers serving Christ and doing everything together: grocery shopping, Bible study, evangelism. . . . 

Through social media, Ali led a friend in Iran to Christ. This relationship, in turn, led to 15 new converts, which soon led to more than 30—all within Iran. Ali spent hours each day discipling these believers by phone. 

The ministry of TGC is written all over Ali’s story. Your Farsi-language resources enabled his personal discipleship and resulting ministry. He devoured books I gave him and the TGC website resources. Through these, Ali learned all about the gospel, a healthy church, prayer, grace, and more.

Ali further read about bold figures who had taken on the challenges of wayward Christianity in their places and times, and he said to me, “The church in Iran needs a John Calvin and a Martin Luther.” Ali had realized the church in Iran is affected by false doctrine, prosperity teaching, and pastors who act as lords over their congregations.

After two years of his long-distance discipleship of those who came to faith in Christ, Ali felt led to return to his country, mainly to be with them. 

My church prayed for Ali as he returned to Iran. Eight months later—around Christmas—he and 100 others were arrested for passing out Bibles and sharing their faith. The Islamic Republic considered them a threat.

I have not heard from Ali directly since that time, though I learned that he and the others were released and remain under strict surveillance. I may never hear from him again. But I believe Ali is a John Calvin or Martin Luther for the church in Iran.

First Corinthians 4:1-2 says, “This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful.” The Holy Spirit is the only one who can awaken a heart and bring illumination. But God calls us to be faithful to preach, faithful to plant seeds, faithful to help equip, faithful to give. We have the privilege to participate in his mission, and he is faithful to bring a hundred-fold return for his kingdom. 

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