"I can worship Him in freedom"
Jonathan and Mojtaba, Farsi Network leaders, update us on what God is doing through this community of people. We also hear from members of the Farsi Network who share why they follow Jesus. Where have you seen God at work in and around the Farsi Network recently?
Praise the Lord, this year He has brought new Farsi-speaking believers from Iran as well as new seekers to the church, and at the same time many of the older members have grown more serious and committed to Him. As we have come to the Lord week by week in worship and prayer, learning more of His Word and being open to His Spirit, He has been working in us and through us. He has strengthened us, comforted us, challenged us and changed our characters to be more like Him.
We are also thankful for increasing love, interest and care shown to us by other brothers and sisters at St G’s, including conversations over coffee, being invited to people’s homes, and the amazing meal hosted by NE Leeds network on 1 June!
On 21st June we joined with believers of many other nationalities for the Hope for the Nations event on Briggate. The Holy Spirit was really at work there in the music and the conversations. At one point a young Iranian man came to our stall and said to Mojtaba, “How can I accept Jesus in my heart?”. Mojtaba encouraged him to kneel there and then, and led him through a prayer of repentance and faith. As the Holy Spirit touched him he was in tears. Praise the Lord!
Here are testimonies from two of the candidates baptised on June 8th.
My name is Gh-F
It was the morning of one of those hot summer days like many of the days in the last two years in Iran. I hadn’t been able to build a relationship with the God of my religion, even though I had prayed and fasted and read the religious book. So I had given up hope on that God, and instead had decided to talk to God in my mother tongue, talking every day, whenever I wanted to. I did all that reason and logic told me to do. I had created God in my own mind and I was talking with him.
That (hot) day I went to the bank, and I was waiting to be called for my turn, and someone came into the bank and passed in front of me. I suddenly thought, “Isn’t that Yahya, my old college friend?” I hadn’t heard from him for ages. But, no it couldn’t be him. The last time I’d seen him he was depressed. He used to be mischievous, bad-mouthed and was always making trouble. He used to smoke and then I’d heard he had become a drug addict too. But now he looked completely different. I went to him and asked him, “Are you Yahya?”. Amazingly, he recognised me.
I asked him how it was possible for him to have changed so much. He smiled, and said, “Let’s go and talk about this together.” So after leaving the bank we spent about an hour together. First we talked about past memories and the economic situation. Then I asked him how such a transformation had happened to him. He shared that his life after college had got much worse, and because of all the drugs he was taking he had nearly died. But Jesus Christ met him and saved his life.
As he was explaining this to me, my hairs were standing on end and I had a strange feeling. He arranged to see me in a park the next day, and then again at the swimming pool, and then we went to the mountains together. He explained to me about God, about death, about sin, about how someone needed to die for our sin and that Jesus had done that for us. Throughout these days he didn’t swear, he didn’t smoke and his face was shining and beautiful. Jesus Christ, the living God, had met with him and had blessed his life.
I eagerly kept meeting with Yahya, and finally one day a voice suddenly shouted from inside my heart, “I’ve found my God. I’ve found the only true way.” It felt as if all the energy in the world had come into me. I had never before had such joy, on the inside or the outside, or such peace.
I asked Yahya to take me to his meetings, so I could repent and confess my faith.
Gh-F soon learned from Matthew 28:19 that he needed to be baptised, and he wanted to obey this command of Jesus to complete his commitment to Him; but he did not have the opportunity in Iran. Praise the Lord he has now been baptised at St G’s.
I had reached a point of emptiness in my life, when neither any religion nor this world had any meaning for me. I lived in sin; every night I was partying with my friends consuming alcohol and using narcotic drugs; I was an angry, irritated, aggressive and vile person. I persecuted and ridiculed others in order to buy joy for myself. But today I have joy in Christ, and God’s Spirit has accepted me and changed me.
I sought after the truth and I wanted to lead a better life, and so I spoke with a friend at length and the friend invited me to a meeting that was held in his home, and at first I accepted to attend for a laugh. He gave me a Bible as a gift and told me that there I would find the truth and the answers to all my questions. I felt peaceful during the meetings and so I started reading the Bible and after a while my view of the world changed. I prayed and I asked God to help me, and in a meeting I knelt down and repented, and I felt much lighter, as though a bucket of water had been poured over me. I truly came to believe that God had been crucified for the forgiveness of my sins, and that He had washed my sins clean with His own blood, and after three days had risen from the dead. I had been saved, and we celebrated! I announced the good news of the gospel and the good news of salvation to my family, that I had entered the Kingdom of God. My family noticed the change in me and they were astonished. My sister also came to Christ, praise the Lord, as did my friends, Davoud, Mostafa and Benyamin. I am praying for my brother. My life changed as the Spirit of God entered my life; love, peace, kindness, good works, faithfulness and humility sprouted forth in my life. Today I am an adopted child of God. I am following Christ, and no power can draw me to the devil, because Christ crushed the devil’s head on the cross. God has called me to become like his Son. By His grace I have entered His glorious kingdom. Every day I pray to Him, I trust Him, I lift up my life to Him. I bring to Him everything in my heart and mind. I confess my sins. I am happy that today I can worship Him in freedom, go to church, die to myself and grow in love. I love my God with all my heart, my soul and my love, and I love my neighbour. I have found everlasting life.
Arash also came to faith in Iran, but did not have the opportunity to be baptised until he was in the UK.
What can St G’s pray for the Farsi Network?
- For every believer - for greater hunger in their hearts for God’s Word, and greater commitment to coming to church and sharing their faith with others.
- For spiritual unity between all members.
- For even more integration into the wider church, for a greater sense of being one family in Christ and that we may be a blessing to others in the church.
If you’d like to receive the Farsi network prayer e-mail (about once a fortnight), please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org