Iranian Christians International Inc.P.O. Box 25607
CO 80936, U.S.A.
Phone: (719) 596-0010
Fax: (719) 574-1141
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Iranian Christian News, Reports and Related Web Sites
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Iranian Christians International, Inc. (ICI) ministers to the approximately 7 million Iranians and Afghans living outside their countries today. ICI works closely with many mission organizations, university outreach ministries and churches. The ICI ministry is sustained through the prayers, contributions and commitment of those who share this vision.
The primary objectives of ICI are: 1) to reach Iranians and Afghans for Jesus Christ; 2) to nurture, equip and train them in their Christian walk; 3) to train and prepare them to return to their countries as church leaders and to go as cross-cultural missionaries to other unreached peoples; 4) to share the needs and opportunities for ministry among Iranians and Afghans with other Christians and train them in Iranian and Afghan evangelism and discipleship.
To fulfill these objectives, ICI: 1) shares Christ with, disciples and counsels Iranian, Afghan and non-Iranian workers; 2) establishes Persian Bible study groups; 3) publishes and distributes evangelism, discipleship and leadership training literature in Persian, Dari, Pushtu and English; 4) evangelizes, disciples and assists Iranian and Afghan refugees; 5) holds international and regional discipleship and training conferences; 6) publishes Mojdeh Magazine, 7) shares needs with ICI prayer partners; 8) holds Iranian/Afghan awareness seminars and training workshops.
Mojdeh is published by ICI. It is supported by donations of Iranians, Afghans and non-Iranians who share our vision for Iranian and Afghan evangelism, discipleship and training. The donation for one year's subscription is $8.00 for the U.S. (students $5.00) and $11.00 abroad.
Due to the sensitivity of materials, please use discretion in sending Mojdeh to Middle Eastern countries. Do not send it to Iran or Afghanistan. For the protection of nationals and Christian workers, the names of people and places mentioned may have been changed.
Mojdeh has a circulation of 2500 and is distributed in about 30 countries. It is our goal that Mojdeh becomes financially self-supporting. About $8,000 is needed annually for its publication and distribution. We encourage you not only to send your own subscription donation but to also send your gifts to underwrite subscriptions for those who need to receive Mojdeh but are unable to send a donation. Personal checks, money orders and foreign draft payments are welcome in U.S. dollars, Canadian dollars and British pounds. (Note that one U.S. dollar is equivalent to 0.67 British pounds and 1.28 Canadian dollars.)
Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. (I Corinthians 12:26-27)
From The Editor
In our "From the Readers" section, you will notice more letters than usual. We are happy about this increased reader participation.
It's exciting for us to report the recent arrivals of several Iranian Christian refugees in the Unites States and Canada. These are the first arrivals of the Christians whom we assisted in 1995, but more are expected to come in early 1996. What a joy for these brothers and sisters to celebrate the joyous season of Christ's birth in freedom from fear of persecution! It is also a joy to publish the story of one of these refugees. His experiences both challenge and encourage us as members of the body of Christ.
We also have the notices for two upcoming ICI conferences and the pre-registration form for the ICI Conference in Europe in this issue. We hope to see you in Germany in July! A conference brochure will be mailed to you by March, but you can use this form to pre-register at this time. Finally, we take this opportunity to wish you a Merry Christmas and a joyous 1996.
Your Friend in Christ, Ebrahim (Abe) Ghaffari
From a Former Iranian Christian Refugee in Turkey
God, who called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful (I Corinthians 1:9).
A few days ago we arrived in Canada under the Lord's umbrella of security. I want to thank the Lord for the critical help He provided my family and me through the dear ones at Iranian Christians International (ICI). I also want to share a few things with the Mojdeh readers:
I, the King, shall say to those at my right, "Come, blessed of my Father, into the Kingdom prepared for you from the founding of the world. For I was hungry and you fed me; I was thirsty and you gave me water; I was a stranger and you invited me into your homes; naked and you clothed me; sick and in prison, and you visited me."
Then these righteous ones will reply, "Sir, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you anything to drink? Or a stranger, and help you? Or naked, and clothe you? When did we ever see you sick or in prison, and visit you? And I, the King will tell them, "When you did it to these my brothers you were doing it unto me." (Matthew 25:34-40).
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, when you reached out to us in our difficult circumstances in Turkey, you ministered not only to us but also to the Lord.
Now my story:
Although I was born in a Muslim family, as a youth I did not practice Islam. I followed my own sinful desires. However, soon this feeling of freedom was replaced with the realization of how enslaved I was. I discovered my life was empty.
This led me to begin researching various philosophies and religions to find the purpose of life. I also began to attend the Mashad church. During a prayer session led by Rev. Soodmand (martyred in December 1990) I came to know my Lord, surrendered my life to Him and was filled with the Holy Spirit. Some time later Bishop Haik Hovsepian- Mehr (martyred January 1994) baptized me.
As I came to know the Lord better, my life was transformed more and more. I became interested in serving the Lord.
I then met my future wife, and she also trusted her life to Christ. We married and began to serve our Lord together.
Before long the religious persecution of our church intensified. The Lord showed us that we were to leave Iran to where we could better serve Him.
We left for Turkey, a land strange to us. While we felt lost there, we knew our security was in the Lord's hands. Arriving in Turkey with our three small children, we had only enough money for one month's stay there. However, we had the assurance of God's promises and His word.
As we applied to UNHCR (United Nations High Commission for Refugees) for refugee status, they informed us that refugee regulations in Turkey had just changed and that we must wait for an indefinite period of time. Our meager resources began to dwindle, and we realized the seriousness of our situation. We were uncertain how we would overcome our difficulties, but believed that Christ would be the ultimate victor. The UNHCR provided no assistance, but years ago we had sought refuge in Christ and had been accepted by Him!
We contacted an Iranian Christian friend in the U.S., who himself had been a refugee in Turkey. He put us in touch with ICI. During this time we saw ourselves drowning in a sea of refugees, with each person grasping for anything to keep him from going under. While in the midst of this stormy sea, we had faith that the living Christ had power to rescue us from those powerful and frightening waves. We only did not know how He would accomplish this work.
When our money ran out and we began to feel worried, we again took all our difficulties before the Lord in prayer. We told Him that we believed we would not go hungry; His word says that the righteous will not go without bread. We prayed that the difficulties of our life would only draw us closer to Him.
When we heard brother Abe's voice on the phone from thousands of miles away, it was the Lord comforting us. We heard Christ's beautiful words through his faithful servant, Abe. Christ had chosen our ICI brothers and sisters for our help. In our conversation, Abe reported that Iranian believers who had been attending a conference in Texas (the Sixth ICI Conference for Central U.S. in October 1994) had decided to help the Iranian Christian refugees in Turkey and other countries. This news caused us to rejoice. We realized that the same Holy Spirit, who assured us that Christ will not leave us alone, had led our beloved brothers and sisters to reach out to us. We remembered the verse, "If someone who claims to be a Christian has enough money to live well, and sees a brother in need but closes his heart against him, how can God's love live in him?" (I John 3:17).
Praise the Lord! The help of our ICI brothers and sisters around the world sustained us during the past year. Also ICI's expertise in refugee affairs met all the challenges of the Turkish government and UNHCR. My family and I were among the first ones in Turkey who were recognized as refugees under the difficult new regulations. This was a victory for Christ and brought glory to Him among all who were seeking refugee status on religious or political grounds. Soon after our recognition as refugees, Canada accepted us for immigration. We had overcome the challenges we met following our departure from Iran. Glory belongs to Christ, for those who trust in Him will not be disappointed.
I take pride in being a member of the body of Christ, a body where every member cares for other members. I thank all those who participated in our rescue in some way.
I am available to be used in the Lord's service. I cannot stay quiet--I must declare His salvation, achieved by His blood, to all who are lost.
My family and I experienced the difficulties of a refugee's life. We have a good understanding of the hard life Iranian refugees face everyday, including Christians in Turkey and elsewhere. We ask all the ICI friends to reach out to these refugees, not for their own sake, but for the sake of Christ. May the grace and love of Christ be with you.
The Lord looked down from his sanctuary on high; from heaven He viewed the earth, to hear the groans of the prisoners and release those condemned to death (Psalms 102:19-20).
Leading A Christian Life
As Christians we are greatly indebted to Christ since He has given us salvation. Therefore we should honor Christ in all aspects of our daily lives.
In the Lord's prayer we say, "Deliver us from evil" (Matthew 6:13). This prayer teaches us to seek God's protection and wisdom in everything we do. In difficulties we need to rely on the Lord and look to Him for strength and guidance. At the end of a day's work, examining ourselves will reveal any sins or errors to avoid in the future.
Spending time alone daily with the Holy Spirit and seeking His direction is a great help. In prayer we are reminded that God watches our conduct and knows even our thoughts. A clear conscience is of infinite worth.
All our decisions impact not only us but also the fellowship of believers, our family and friends, and other people. Do our actions and words reflect the lordship of Jesus Christ? People judge us by our actions and words--but God even inspects what is in our hearts and minds.
As human beings we are not perfect and should not forget our humanness. Nonetheless God desires for us to pursue perfection--this is how we become like Christ. A true follower of Christ cannot be proud, jealous, self-centered, self-indulgent, irresponsible or lazy. Instead, a believer is to fear God and to have a loving, humble and forgiving spirit. A Christian must set an example for others, just as we follow the example of Christ. As the light of the world, we illuminate the way for others.
Since we do not know when physical death will overtake us, we must always be ready to stand before the throne of God. On that day will Christ tell us, "Well done, my child"? Will we rejoice in how we spent our lives? Did each day bring glory to Christ?
Dear friend, if you regret having wasted your life, the time to repent of your past sins is now. Christ wants you to follow Him and to lead an abundant life with His help. He longs for you to be His instrument and to bring light into the dark corners of the world. Will you say yes to Christ?
How I Found New Life in Christ
I was born into a Muslim family, but I never truly understood Islam. I followed Islam because I had inherited it from past generations. As I grew up a spiritual battle went on inside me. I was troubled by many questions about Islam and spiritual matters, and no one could provide satisfying answers. The God I sought was still unknown to me.
Eventually I came to the U.S. and began attending a Persian-speaking church. I gradually learned the beliefs and practices of Christianity, but I often felt doubt and resisted the Christian beliefs. In time I began to feel a spiritual change in my life. As I studied Christianity I became aware of my shallow knowledge of spiritual matters.
The pastor of the church encouraged me not to worry and said that Christianity shows us the way of life. As we walk in it, we take steps toward spiritual understanding and perfection. Achieving perfection does not happen overnight, but is a lifetime process as we experience God intimately and partake more and more of His divine nature.
As the pastor and church leaders guided me, I heard Christ invite me to follow Him. I opened my heart to Christ and decided to follow Him with one mind and purpose. God changed my heart from within and gave me a new faith.
Everyday I try to grow in my faith and become more like Christ. While I still encounter the problems of daily life, I am equipped with a special grace from Christ. I face my difficulties from a new perspective.
Since being united with Christ I have a special peace in my life--a peace that I had been seeking all my life. I am a child of God and know that my heavenly Father is always with me. Jesus Christ is beside me to carry my burdens and give me rest. He has said, "Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light" (Matthew 11:28-30).
I thank God for sending Jesus Christ, His spiritual Son, to die for me on the cross. Through His shed blood the wages of my sin have been paid and I have received the gift of eternal life. How great is the love He has poured out on us (1 John 3:1). My response to Him is a prayer:
O Lord, may you be seen in and through me more fully. Help me to withstand the temptations of Satan. How I desire your presence with me and pray for a greater appreciation of you. May I always seek your will for my life, O Lord. I desire to be faithful to you in my life and service. Amen.
What is Christmas?
Although Christmas is a religious* holiday, many modern customs and practices associated with it were carried over from other festivals-- some religious, some not. Christmas is the holiday celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. This must be our primary focus.
The background and birth of Jesus can be found in the Bible, in the New Testament books of Matthew (chapters 1-2) and Luke (chapter 2). These two books, along with Mark and John, are called gospels, meaning "good news." The birth of Jesus in Bethlehem signaled the fulfillment of a long awaited promise that God would send someone, his personal representative, to remove the negative effects of personal evil in the world. Jesus was that representative. Thus his arrival on the human scene, announced by a night sky full of angels (Luke 2:9-14), was good news. Shepherds were the first visitors to see the newborn Baby. Later wise men, or Magi, traveled "from the east," (Iran) to worship the Child and offer him gifts (Matthew 2:1-12). Early Christians did not initially celebrate Christ's birth because they considered celebrating birthdays to be a pagan (non-Christian custom). However, the holiday gradually developed, beginning around 200 AD, and its celebration customs varied from country to country.
The specifics of family Christmas celebrations can have many variations as there are families. Typically families will open presents either on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. Members may open them at the same time, one at a time, or have some other type of family tradition. Many Christian families will have a birthday cake for Jesus, and sing "Happy Birthday" to Him, in keeping with American birthday celebrations. Some may sing Christmas carols (hymns) together, share meaningful Christmas stories, or enter in on a family project designed to help others less fortunate than they.
Many churches will have special meetings (such as Christmas Eve Services) or regular services with Christmas themes. Many churches help the community celebrate with special events such as Christmas pageants, plays or dramas, concerts or "singing Christmas trees." Or they may help the community with a particular assistance program, such as feeding the poor and homeless, sending gifts to prisoners and their families, sending packages to military personnel separated from family during the holidays, or a wide variety of other such beneficial projects. All such activities come this time of year primarily because God gave his best, his son Jesus, to the world. Christmas is a season where humanity says "Thank you" for God's love in sending Jesus Christ to pay for the sins of the world, by sharing it with and showing it to others.
As we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, this Christmas, let Him be the primary focus of our celebration. "But seek His kingdom and His Righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well" (Matthew 6:33).
*Adapted from American Holidays, by Bill Perry.