Jesus Is So Real to Them

Jesus Is So Real to Them

One of the gifts Hope Church has given me is to shape me more deeply as a global Christian, connected to the body of Christ all over the world. I am deeply grateful that Hope Church has previously sent me to Kenya, Rwanda, and Israel.

Now I have just returned from a “vision” trip to London and the United Arab Emirates. Our team, beautifully led by Dan McNerny from Frontier Fellowship (one of our mission partners), met with extraordinary Christian leaders who are passionately committed to sharing Jesus Christ in the Muslim world.

While in London we met with Iranian Christians who live in exile. Some of them have been arrested, others fled before they were arrested. Some have family members who have been martyred. They live in London, but their heart is for the people of Iran, ancient Persia. With tremendous energy and creativity they find ways to tell about Jesus in a nation where it is illegal to evangelize in his name. They have translated the Bible into Farsi and found ways to smuggle those Bibles into Iran. They transmit high-quality Christian television programming via satellite (we visited the production studios). Above all, they support the house church movement in Iran, the underground church in which Iranian Christians are compelled to gather. We marveled at the quality of training they provide, rivalling any seminary in the world.

To our great surprise, and I suspect to the great surprise of the world, evangelical Christianity is growing fastest in the Islamic Republic of Iran.* I never thought to see this in my lifetime. But “with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).

While in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) we met with Arab Christian leaders whose passion is to serve Jesus among the seven countries of the Arabian Peninsula — Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, UAE, Oman, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia. Even though there is greater tolerance and openness in the UAE, this is dangerous ministry. Much of the discipleship here is one-on-one. There is constant risk that the person presenting himself for discipleship might actually be a government agent. It was deeply humbling to sit in the home of Christian leaders, receiving their gracious hospitality, as they calmly told us that at any moment they could be arrested, deported, tortured, and even killed.

These global Christians, in Iran, London, and the Arabian Peninsula, taught us so much. They were humble, courageous, and full of joy. They modeled what it means to love God “with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30). They burn with the desire to share Jesus with others.

Jesus is so real to them. Lord Jesus, may you be so for us. Thank you for these brothers and sisters in the body of Christ. Lord Jesus, protect them and  magnify your name through them — and help us to be more like them.

by David Lenz

*see Operation World,