Carelinks | Germany
Bro Steve Gretton reports on a recent visit to Germany: “‘Please do not take our photo.’ This Iranian couple are now living in Belgium in a quiet safe town, well away from the troubled centres of unrest in Brussels, yet they have a realistic fear that if news of their conversion to Christ were to leak out, then they are in real danger of death or injury. Shapour and his wife Azam are grandparents who have left Iran about 12 months ago to help their son look after their young granddaughter.
Their son’s friend, Farsio, was baptised with his wife when Duncan and I went there four years ago and it was Farsio and his wife, Raheleh, who provided beds and excellent Iranian food for us. Shapour and Azam had grasped the opportunity to obtain Bibles and started a thorough study of the Bible and worked through Bible Basics. They have spent hours every day since then reading and studying and their many thick note books are filled with their thoughts and discoveries. Rarely do you meet such dedicated students of the Word.
Andy Taylor and I visited them after they requested baptism, but rather than seeing if they understood the truth, we were confronted with many questions! Whenever we brought up any subject, they knew the answers and could quote stories from the Bible in great detail. Nothing took them by surprise. Farsio emphasised the thought that they were all unfamiliar with the idea of religion not being used to enhance one’s economic welfare or power. They had been listening to the recorded material on the Carelinks site in Farsi language.
And so with delight they were baptised into Christ in their son’s house, a fun-loving man who became increasingly more serious and engaged in the conversations that were flowing around him. And it was he who prepared the bread and the wine for our celebration at the Lord’s table. There is no doubt that the Lord reaches out to affect those who are giving their lives to him. Such people regularly speak of a great sense of calm and happiness filling them at the time of their baptism and we have often seen that the Lord is very active in their lives after baptism in ways which they themselves admit takes them by surprise.
Within their political system in Iran, the phrase ‘giving your life to the Lord’ has a much more literal significance, but so also the promise of our Lord Jesus, “I will come to you.” But the day before the baptisms, we met another son and his wife on the last day of their holiday from Iran. The wife was distant and cool towards us. She wore a typical Moslem head covering and would not shake our hands. We assumed she was a quiet submissive wife. But at one point she suddenly asked in excellent English what exactly Christianity was. I introduced her to Jesus, describing his life, his actions, his words, his attitudes, his death and the evidence for his resurrection, and why I concluded that he was truly God’s son. It was as if a light had come on in her mind! She was deeply attentive and became increasingly animated. The conversation of the whole group gradually centred on our discussion.
As she left I offered her a Bible. Not surprisingly she declined - but not because she was Muslim - which might have been expected but simply because it was too dangerous to have one in Iran, which is understandable. But I felt able to say to her that if when she came to Belgium next time she wished to be baptised then we would make the arrangements. She smiled but said she had her own beliefs. After she had left, the group were very excited and explained that far from appearances she was a highly qualified senior lecturer in Philosophy at one of the top Tehran universities. She was totally committed to her Islamic beliefs and had studied world religions in connection with her doctorate. They said they could not have imagined she would take such an interest. The next day after she had gone, her parents in law said that on returning back with them to their house she had talked at length about the conversation and described the encounter as one of the greatest experiences in her life! Surely the Lord is at work and it must be that she saw him and heard what he wanted to say. It was not me. Please pray for her and for her husband and his brother, that the Lord’s efforts to reach out to this unlikely contact will bear fruit to our Father’s glory.