I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. John 17:14–15
Iranian Pastor Behnam Irani was arrested in 2010 when MOIS officers stormed his house church service, interrogated attending members, and confiscated Christian materials. He was assaulted and taken into custody on charges of “apostasy.” Pastor Irani has been found guilty and is sentenced to serve a five-year term at Ghazal Hesar, a prison known for its inhumane treatment of prisoners. It has been reported that Pastor Irani has been beaten by fellow prisoners and is gravely ill. The family is concerned that without proper medical care Pastor Irani may die.
Jesus warned us that we would face persecution of all kinds because of our faith. Pastor Irani knew the cost of his belief. He was arrested four years earlier for the same crime. Yet, he continued to open his house and pastor fellow seekers. He did not let the threat of suffering deter him from his service and devotion to Christ.
The world hated Jesus. We shouldn’t be surprised when we encounter the same kind of rejection. In fact, Jesus’ prayer, as recorded in John 17, warns us that we will be misunderstood and come under attack. Jesus, himself, regularly faced persecution. Pharisees often plotted to stop him, and finally to kill him. Jesus told us we also should expect to be persecuted. “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:11–12). The Bible is filled with examples of believers who suffered for their faith. Stephen was stoned for proclaiming the truth (Acts 7:54–60), Paul was imprisoned, flogged, and beaten (2 Corinthians 11:23–28), and seven of the original eleven disciples were martyred.
This kind of persecution continues today. Around the world Christians, like Pastor Behnam Irani, are in prison for preaching the gospel of Christ. In some parts of the world, new believers are being rejected by family members when their conversion becomes public. Others have been tortured or killed simply because of their obedience to God.
The enemy of God hates Jesus Christ and all who do his work. Although we, Americans, tend to be insulated from the most severe forms of persecution, we should not be surprised when we encounter the same kind of rejection and persecution. And, finally, we need to remember to pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ who are right now facing rejection, suffering, and even death, for their faith.
Have you ever come under attack for your Christian beliefs?
What was your reaction?
How did God help in that situation?
Dear Jesus, Thank you for praying for my protection. You have warned me that I shouldn’t be surprised when I come under attack for my faith. Strengthen and equip me to face such challenges. Protect me from discouragement when persecution happens. And, please act on behalf of my fellow believers around the world who are facing persecution because of their faith in you.
For more information on Pastor Behnam Irani, please visit: http://presenttruthmn.com/behnam-irani/
Or the persecuted church: http://www.persecution.org/
1 Peter 4:12–16
“Untitled Hymn”• Run The Earth Watch the Sky • Chris Rice
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