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It is with both joy and sadness that we write you today. There is joy as our sister, Iris, graduated to glory on Wednesday, February 20, 2019 and no longer suffers from the ailments of her earthly body. And there is sadness for Tony, her family, friends and partners in ministry as we all grieve her loss. In September 2017, we shared about Iris’ health and the ways in which she continued to serve and share Christ in her interactions every day, including sharing her faith with her medical team.
Iris faithfully served alongside Tony, our Persian ministry director, for the past 36 years. It is impossible to measure the value of what she has provided over the years to this ministry, from organizing travel schedules to hospitality, from coordinating administration to writing letters and reports, to assisting Tony in so many ways. Many of you who had the privilege of meeting Iris will know that she carried out these things with a humble attitude and would quickly bring all glory to her heavenly Father. In light of what she would have wanted, rather than continue to recognize what she has done, we would like to share her testimony of her life in missions as she shared with us weeks before her passing.
“I had the privilege of growing up in a Christian home with family devotions every evening. When I was 11 years old, I realized that believing in Jesus was not enough. I asked Jesus to forgive my sins and become Lord of my life. I was baptized at the age of 12.
“During my teenage years, my church held a number of mission conferences. Each time we were challenged to become missionaries. I agreed that as Christians we all have the mandate to go into all the world to preach the gospel. As time went on, I wanted to have a ‘career’ that made a difference for all eternity.
“Again, after much prayer, I applied to attend a Bible school. I was accepted, but there was no room left in the dorms. When I was able to obtain special permission to rent a room from a friend who worked there, it confirmed that this is where God wanted me.
“I was required to do a short-term mission before I could graduate. God had impressed upon me the need for missionaries among Muslims. How could they become Christians when most of them had never heard the gospel? I was accepted at a Summer Training Program in Muslim Evangelism in New York City.
“I met a very special young man that summer who had the same calling to bring the gospel to Muslims and in his case, it was to the people in his homeland, Iran. After much time in prayer, I said yes to Tony, whom I had come to love. We have been married for 36 years.
“Tony had been accepted as a candidate with Trans World Radio. He had come to the States to study theology and then return to Iran. However, after the Islamic revolution took place, Tony lost his citizenship. This obviously was no surprise to God who had already planned for Tony to write and record gospel programs broadcast into the Persian-speaking world.
“It has been a privilege to work alongside Tony. I could do some administrative work for him while being a stay-at-home mom. Later, I very much enjoyed being part of the Bible conferences held in Central Asia for believers and seekers from Iran. I especially enjoyed leading the children’s programs for the handful of children who came along with their parents.
“I got to know one little girl quite well as she came several times. She is an only child, very bright and very determined. One afternoon when she was six, she snuck out of the centre to visit a friend. I went running after her, concerned that she would get lost. Thankfully, I found her. When we got back to the centre, her mother was at the door, crying. I was very concerned, but then was reassured that mom had not been worried about R. but had just had her first communion and was so overwhelmed by all Jesus had done for her.
“Another aspect of the ministry that I have enjoyed is hospitality. Tony has helped me to learn the importance of having guests, mostly overnight guests. This began just a few months after we were married and has continued until today. One does not always know what such visits have meant until years later. They have always been worth it when done as unto the Lord.
“Just recently a lady phoned to thank us again for the hospitality we extended to her 33 years ago which resulted in a long-lasting friendship. We were used by God to strengthen H’s faith in Jesus. She was married to a godly man. All three of their daughters love the Lord and are bringing up their children to know the Lord. The ripple effect also extended to H’s mother and siblings, all of who became Christians. By providing a home away from home for Iranian believers, we trust we have been good examples, so the ripple effect can continue.”
Pray that the influence for Christ that Iris had on so many will continue to “ripple” for many years to come. Also, pray for Tony, their family and many others who Iris has touched as they grieve the loss of wife, mother, sister and friend.
The family will hold a private celebration of Iris’s life. Cards and notes of appreciation can be sent to the TWR Canada office, and we’ll make sure the family receives them.