We came closer to Iran than initially thought. With the border in view, we worshipped in a house church where 35 Muslim-background believers were unashamedly praising God. Windows were flung open and the sound system was turned up so that all could hear. These are the only members of the Body of Christ in an area with a population exceeding 300,000. But, just in the house churches of the Book of Acts, God is adding to their numbers daily.
(Image: Mike (right) with a few of the house church members in the background)
The church has recently been relocated four times as its series of neighbors have successfully kicked it out of the various facilities it occupied. Its present meeting place, not surprisingly, is hemmed in on all sides by Muslim families that go onto their porches and rooftops to hear what is being said during the services and meetings. Presumably they are waiting to hear inflammatory comments they can report to the local Imam. Instead, they hear the Gospel.
(Image: A mosque being renovated around the corner from the house church.The Iran border is in the background)
One person per day is now coming to Christ in this area. This absolutely amazing feat is achieved by deep, hard work where three dozen faithful souls (and growing) daily risk their lives to make Christ known. This is not the type of bounty where hundreds raise their hands in response to a message, only to fall away days later after no follow-up and discipleship. These are steady, hard-won gains that are carefully nurtured to produce lasting fruit.
(Image: A father helps his daughter to follow the lyrics of a worship song)
Each new believer will be ostracized and cast out by their families and community. To choose Christ is to risk your life and lose relationships, friendships, and overall societal identity. It’s a tough decision that gives a modern-day clarity to "pick up your cross and follow me."
The senior pastor, one of the persons who anticipated execution after being taken at a security check point last month, told us that they all fully expect to die. Yet they continue to preach Christ, knowing that the servant is no greater than the Master.