For many months, TWR Canada had been looking for a Farsi-speaking couple to be the on-camera presenters for Discipleship Essentials
. Where this language is dominant, these countries are often hostile to Christians. This reality made finding presenters difficult, because it would require that this couple never return to their birth country and might even put their lives at risk. The couple would become public enemies.Would you sign up for that? Would you take on that risk?
“But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of threats” 1Peter 4:14 (NLT).
TWR Canada missionary McDaniel Phillips travelled to meet with a potential couple. M and her husband R met him along with another Canadian couple at a restaurant. M’s warm smile and easy laugh hid the very difficult choices she’d been forced to make as a result of her faith.
M shared that she’d followed all of Islam’s religious traditions carefully, but she had heard about Jesus from her aunt who was a Christ follower. Through her aunt’s witness, after many years of wrestling with her own conscience, M surrendered to the love and invitation of Jesus.M’s family disowned her. Her friends wouldn’t speak to her. She lost her job.
Eventually, she met and married R. They had an active ministry in their home country for many years, and had two children together. R was imprisoned and interrogated because of the ministry work they were doing (because of his faith) and upon his release the family fled to a neighbouring country. They lived there for two years. They made plans to immigrate to Europe, feeling the call of the Lord upon their ministry there. M returned home one last time to reconcile with her family. R and the children waited for her so they could all fly together.
M was able to connect with her family (that’s another story) but she was detained when she tried to leave. She was “interviewed,” but the interview lasted three months! She shared her story with quiet humility, but it was clear there was much more she wasn’t sharing. Had she endured more than just talking?Tears welled up in her eyes, the trauma still fresh in her mind. “They hurt me,” was all she said.We later learned that M had been severely tortured.
M waved away the past as though it were nothing more than a pesky fly, swiped at her tears and smiled. “But God caused them to release me.”
God enabled M to stand firm despite her suffering. Her courage was inspiring for me. R and their children, in the meantime, had left for Europe not knowing if they would ever see her again. M was overjoyed to be reunited with them after three months.
Through this experience, M says her heart was broken for her nation and especially for the women of her country. She says the Lord has removed her fear and concern for her personal safety. She is willing to risk all so that people in and of her nation can experience the love and forgiveness of Jesus.
In his book Multiply
, author Francis Chan writes of discipleship: “Our mission will include preaching, encouraging, rebuking, serving, studying, suffering, and many other things. But if all of these activities are not manifestations of love, then we have missed the point.”
M is motivated by love for her Lord and for her people. That is the heart of discipleship. Sometimes we are called to suffer for doing what is right. Sometimes persecution is the response we receive for our faith. Love is the only response we are called to have to these trials.Want to learn more about how to love others biblically?
Check out Discipleship Essentials: Essentials For Christian Living. In Module 3 (Christian Life and Worldview) check out Lesson #13: Loving Others.
“The purpose of this lesson is to communicate how we begin to love others as God loves us, and to understand the importance of love in the Christian’s daily life.” You can watch or listen, and download a leader's guide, a study guide, and a devotional of this lesson here.(You can share this content, adapt it for your church or small group, all for free. No permissions required.)