Tag Archives: persecution

Day Twenty: Share His Joy

This is Day Twenty of our 21 Day Watch.  I hope you’ve noticed God in ways you may have missed if you hadn’t been watching.  I’ve become more aware His tiny whispers and answers to my prayers.  And it’s made me wonder.  How many times have I missed seeing God simply because I wasn’t watching? Watching takes energy. It requires alertness.  But it’s so worth the effort.

We become more watchful when alert to danger. For Christians in many parts of the world, these are dangerous times. Kenya is still reeling from the Somali terrorist attacks on Christian college students that claimed over 150 innocent lives. Reports continue to pour in from Iraq and Syria where Christian communities suffer at the hands of ISIS. We’re tempted to become anxious when overwhelmed with so much bad news.

But we can learn to calm anxiety by enlarging our view of God. That’s why we’re asking God to open our eyes to His Word, His work, and His big picture.  I remind you: God is not caught off guard by troubling world events. Nor is persecution of Christians a new thing.  As Paul tells Timothy about the many hardships he’s endured for his faith, he reminds him:  Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted (2 Timothy 3:12) NIV).  Now that’s a Bible promise we don’t often hear often quoted.

I have traveled to many countries where Christians are persecuted and I’ve noticed a curious thing. In places where believers suffer most intensely, their joy seems to be the most vibrant.  For example, I was talking to a friend from another country whose ministry takes him throughout the Middle East.  I wondered how he dealt with fear, since he faces danger daily. He was rather nonchalant as he answered, saying simply, “Oh, I’ve just learned to trust God for protection.”  Then he went on to talk about his absolute joy at seeing so many in his part of the world who are meeting Jesus for the first time.  I noticed the same joy and lack of fear among evangelists I met recently in India.  These men and women were so filled with excitement as they watch the growing number of new believers, despite growing persecution.  Do you suppose their joy in sharing the Gospel makes anxiety about personal issues seem small in comparison?

Their example has inspired me to become more watchful for opportunities to share God’s love with others.   I have a friend who is getting to know Jesus for the first time, and I must admit. Seeing her faith spring to life gives me incredible joy.  I suspect Jesus is especially close by when we’re telling others how much He loves them.  After all, it’s what He’s called us to do.  And as we’re faithful to His Great Commission, He promises to be with us.  He gives us His Presence.  We share in His joy. What on Earth could be better than that?

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age (Matthew 28:18-20 NIV).





A Minute a Day for Saeed

Be alert and self-controlled so that you can pray. 1 Peter 4:7

My son and his friend were recently having dinner in a local restaurant.  Suddenly, everyone’s cell phone alarm went off at exactly the same time. The National Weather Service had just issued a flash flood warning for our area.  So a chorus of loud buzzers echoed throughout the small eatery reminding everyone to be alert to potential hazards.  I wonder what would happen if we as believers had our own early warning system calling us to pray?  The Bible reminds us that we wrestle continually against the forces of darkness  so we’re to always be  ALERT for prayer.

I recently met a young woman who’s story burdened me so much that I have committed to pray for her every day.  So I created my own little “early warning” system to remind me to pray.  I set my iPhone alarm for noon each day reminding me to pray for one minute for Naghmeh Abedini and her husband Pastor Saeed Abedini.  After you hear their story, I hope you’ll consider doing the same.

I happened to be seated next to Naghmeh at a recent gathering where she had been invited to share the plight of her husband, Saeed, an American citizen imprisoned in Iran for his Christian faith. I got to hear firsthand about the living nightmare she and her family have endured for nearly two years.

Like many, I have been troubled by Pastor Saeed’s imprisonment and went to the event eager to learn more about his condition and what world leaders are trying to do to secure his release. I came away with a new hero. His wife.

The attractive, articulate young Naghmeh spoke to a group of men and women gathered at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. “We as Americans don’t like to suffer,” she said quietly as one who knows this full well.  Suffering has been her daily companion as she wrestles with the agony of knowing of Saeed’s prison hardships and even torture.  As daily, she watches her children, Jacob and Rebecca, missing their dad. “But it’s when we reach the end of our human strength that we discover the supernatural peace that only Jesus can give.”

Naghmeh is Iranian born but raised as a US citizen in Boise Idaho, accepting Jesus as her savior when she was just nine. She prefers a quiet life to the grinding schedule of worldwide travel speaking on Saeed’s behalf. Her itinerary has included appearances before the United Nations and European Parliament. “I wasn’t an upfront person,” she smiled. “Saeed would be very surprised to see me speaking all over the world on his behalf.”

When asked about her surprising sense of calm, Naghmeh says that she depends on Jesus each day to even get up in the morning.   A self-described anxious person by nature, she says the Lord has enveloped her in a supernatural peace throughout this harrowing ordeal. After speaking to the United Nations, she even had Muslims and atheists come up to her to ask the reason for her unexplainable calm in the face of such a fierce ordeal. And she tells them. It’s only Jesus.

More than anything, Naghmeh wants to glorify Jesus as she works for Saeed’s release.  And she asks for believers everywhere to join her in continued, fervent  prayer for his release. Click here  to join the worldwide Prayer Vigil for Saeed,  September 26, 2014. 

And every day, will you join me in setting your cell phone alarm to pray a minute a day for Saeed?   Together, let’s  pray each petition in the Lord’s Prayer for Saeed and his family.  It only takes one minute.

Hope I will hear other cell phones going off at noon as many of you agree to Pray a Minute a Day for Saeed.  









We consider blessed those who have persevered.  James 5:11

Patience!  “Better not pray for patience,”  a friend once cautioned me. “The Lord will send tough circumstances when you ask for patience!”   I’m not sure I agree with her theology.  We live in a fallen world where hardship and pain are simply a reality.  Jesus himself warns,”In this world you will have trouble…” (John 16:33).  “But take heart,” he adds, “I have overcome the world.”   James reminds that if we persevere, holding up patiently under trial, we are blessed.   The word means happy.  Fortunate.  Even joyful. Continue reading