Why Are Persecuted Christians So Thankful?

You have probably read stories of persecuted Christians who have said with all sincerity that they were “honored to be tortured for Christ.” How is it that the persecuted church can be so thankful in the face of such horror, even death?

Persecuted Christians can indeed inspire and challenge us to be thankful no matter what circumstances we are in. But how do they do it? What motivates them to have that attitude of thankfulness? Here are some reasons that they are thankful even in hard situations. Maybe we can learn something from them.

1. They have first-hand experience of the transforming power of Jesus.

You see, when you come from darkness, you appreciate the light even more.

In America and the West, we often don’t realize how many Christian values have become an expected part of the culture. Yes, Western society has many problems, but we still value kindness, mercy, love, and human dignity as a part of our framework. We notice and are even outraged when these points of spiritual light are missing because we are used to them and take them for granted.

27119899 - open hands holding cross, symbol of christian faith

“You see, when you come from darkness, you appreciate the light even more.”

In Islamic countries, there is such spiritual darkness. People live with cruelty, judgment, and death as expected norms. In Islam, individual lives do not have much value. This kind of dark environment creates such hopelessness in people that Muslims who become Christians experience major change and joy.

From hatred to love, from hopelessness to hope, from darkness to light, from bondage to freedom—many Muslim-background Christians experience change in an extreme way.

This extreme change from darkness to light creates a great appreciation—thankfulness—for the One who brought about that change. And so these believers are willing and ready to suffer for Christ and not deny him, no matter how harsh the persecution.

2. They realize their desperate need for walking with Jesus.

Persecuted Christians easily realize that Jesus is all they need, so he is all they want. Walking daily with Jesus is not an option for them but a desperate need. Being willing to suffer for Christ is tied directly to thankfulness.

For many of us in the West, we know what Jesus did for us, but we do not see our desperate need to walk with him daily. If we do not read the Bible daily, pray regularly, or go to church weekly, we often don’t notice an immediate, negative impact in any kind of major or tangible way. For us, a vibrant, deep spiritual walk with the Holy Spirit seems optional. Therefore, for us in the West, we have to be intentional about remembering what Jesus has done for us. When we do that, we will be more thankful—and as a result, make a decision to walk with him daily.

3. They see suffering as a way to say “Thank You” to Jesus.

When persecuted Christians suffer for Christ, what they are doing is actively saying “Thank You” to Jesus in the best way they can. They are replying to his sacrifice with sacrifice of their own. And they are honored to do it!

Many persecuted Christians are even willing to give their lives for Jesus. Of course, Jesus does not ask such martyrdom from every believer. But we can still welcome suffering for him out of our thankfulness. The giving of time and finances is a sacrifice that the Lord recognizes and appreciates—especially when it is a result of our thankfulness for what he has done for us. It truly blesses him! Can you imagine the joy it is to know that Jesus feels blessed by something you do? The thanks you give him by willingly choosing to sacrifice your time, talents, and treasure for him?

In this season of thanksgiving, I want to encourage you to give your time and finances—not because you should, not because of obligation—but out of thankfulness.

Consider the darkness Jesus has delivered you from with his sacrifice. If you are thankful for the light, then reply with sacrificial thanks giving.

“We have to be intentional about remembering what Jesus has done for us. When we do that, we will be more thankful.”STACKED #GT Logo

Tuesday, November 28 is #GivingTuesday, a global thanksgiving movement that is helping to spread light throughout the world. If you are thankful for Jesus, would you partner with us and give sacrificially to what he is doing for Muslims and persecuted Christians in Iran?

Imagine the joy of Jesus when you say to him, “Thanks, it is an honor to serve you.”


To receive stories about persecuted Christians in Iran and learn more about how to support them and reach other Muslims hungry for the gospel, text “Iran” to 74784.


Related Articles:

Seymore, Julia A. “Christianity Thrives in Iran Despite Severe Persecution.” ChristianHeadlines.com, April 4, 2016.

Lessons from the Persecuted Church: Do You Take Jesus for Granted?

Urgent: God Wants to Save Iran

My dear friends, may God richly bless you in this new year. I thank you for all you have accomplished through Iran Alive Ministries in 2015 even as I pray for what God will do through us all in 2016. I pray earnestly for the year ahead because in looking back over what God has done in Iran and the world in the past year, the word on my heart for 2016 is “urgency.”

Major events are happening in the world very fast. Look at ISIS and the spread of terrorism in 2015 alone! Yet there is also another growing trend of which most of the West is unaware. Iran is the most open Muslim country in the world right now to the Gospel. It is the only Muslim country where Christianity is growing and Islam is experiencing its greatest defeat in its 14 centuries of existence. The government is threatened by this, but they haven’t been able to close the door of Christian growth.

“A great door for effective work has opened to me,

and there are many who oppose me.” (1 Corinthians 16:9 NIV)

But because the western Church is afraid of Muslim terrorism and has no working strategy to stop it, many in the Church have stayed spiritually blind to what God is doing in Iran. God wants to save the nation of Iran and make it a light in the Middle East.

We must work with urgency while this great door is open.

“We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day;

night is coming, when no one can work.” (John 9:4 ESV)

I fully believe that Iran will be the first Muslim country to bring the Jews to jealousy according to Romans 11:11 (“salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious”). The Iranian government has continued to proclaim that its greatest enemy is Israel, shouting, “Death to Israel!” and “We will wipe Israel off the map!” But I believe when the Jews see that the country that threatened their existence has suddenly turned friendly and started loving them, they will wake up to Christ’s message and become jealous of Christian faith among Iranians.

This transition is already happening.

In a country where Christianity is forbidden,

Muslim hearts are turning to Jesus

by the thousands every month.

Let us praise God for these Christ connections in 2015:

32,902—Phone and email communications

9,750,914—Total website hits and views on social media

67,810—Evangelistic chat room attendance

8,760—Hours of broadcasts

 

The number of people who have prayed with us

to receive Christ since our first broadcast in 2001:

32,418

 

Praise God for His work in the lives of Persians through Iran Alive Ministries. Our overall strategy is working! Here are a few main parts of that strategy:

  1. We are working toward not just converting people but also transforming lives. We teach not “easy believism” through television (as most Americans think of TV believers) but total surrender of life even unto death.
  2. We are targeting not only the masses to come to Christ but also those at the top: government officials, marketplace leaders, high-ranking military commanders, and top clergy. Yes, these top officials are secretly coming to Christ and sharing with us that they have done so.
  3. We aim not just to train church leaders but also to develop society leaders in government, media, arts, the marketplace, and education. As an example just this past month, a secular media mogul came to Christ. He and his family own the largest network of secular satellite channels in Iran. I am discipling and guiding them to be effective for Christ right where they are.

God wants to save Iran. Pray with me that we can transform it into a Christian nation in this generation!

How Do You Provide Church for 2 Million Believers in Iran?

In Iran, there are no above ground churches.  Even underground churches, while effective and growing, are only accessible to 1% of all believers due to fear and security.  That is where our Global Church for Iran, or Church 7 strategy, provides a lifeline for the estimated 2 million believers who have no other option for church of any kind.  No option for fellowship, discipleship, training or encouragement that is readily available and enjoyed by those of us in the West.

Watch this exciting video to see what Iran Alive Ministries is doing about this problem.

USA and Iran Partnering in Iraq? 5 questions answered – #5

This entry is part 5 of 5 in the series USA and Iran Partnering in Iraq?

5.  Will the US and Iran partner in Iraq to stop ISIS?

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani
  1. Both have similar interests: to help the current Shiite Government of Iraq maintain control and stop the Sunni ISIS from taking over Iraq.
  2. They may partner in some ways to help stop ISIS but will never acknowledge it publicly.
  3. Iran has a major influence in Iraq where the majority of the population is Shiites and the government is led by Shiites.
  4. Iran’s goal has been to get the US out of Iraq and be the sole influencer of the Shiite Iraqi regime. They are happy that the US has pulled out of Iraq and do not want to see the US’s influence and presence increase. Therefore, they may work with the US for the short time but will want the US out of Iraq as soon as ISIS is stopped.

USA and Iran Partnering in Iraq? 5 questions answered – #4

This entry is part 4 of 5 in the series USA and Iran Partnering in Iraq?

4.  How the events in Iraq will impact His Kingdom?christian-persecution

  1. Christians in Iraq and Syria have been persecuted and have been leaving as refugees.
  2. Under ISIS, the killing and persecution of Christians will dramatically increase. It has already started and there will be a mass exodus of Christians.
  3. The brutality of ISIS will cause millions of Muslims to have an objective look at Islam. Many of them will come to reject Islam and become open to the message of the Gospel. This is what happened in Iran. Millions of Syrian refugees have seen the brutality of Islamist “freedom fighters” of ISIS. Many of them are coming to Christ in refugee camps in Turkey.

USA and Iran Partnering in Iraq? 5 questions answered – #3

This entry is part 3 of 5 in the series USA and Iran Partnering in Iraq?

3.  Who is ISIS?

  1. ISIS stands for Islamic State in Iraq and (greater) Syria.

    ISIS members are painting the Arabic letter N, for “Nasrani,” or Nazarene on homes as a way of identifying unwanted Christians.
    ISIS members are painting the Arabic letter N, for “Nasrani,” or Nazarene on homes as a way of identifying unwanted Christians in Mosul, Iraq.
  2. They are the coalition of Sunni forces in Iraq and Syria.
  3. Their immediate goal is to topple two Shiite governments in Iraq and Syria.
  4. Their intermediate goal is to have a unified Sunni state that covers the whole region including Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine and Israel.
  5. Their long-term goal is to bring back a worldwide rule of Caliphates. They believe that they are mandated by the Quran to do so and use as much violence as needed to accomplish that goal.
  6. They are much stronger than Al-Qaeda in numbers, unity, and finances. They have performed mass executions, even including women and children. They are so violent and brutal that Al-Qaeda looks conservative and moderate comparatively.
  7. When in power, they will be the number one source of terrorism in the world.

USA and Iran Partnering in Iraq? 5 questions answered – #2

This entry is part 2 of 5 in the series USA and Iran Partnering in Iraq?

2.  What is the difference between Shiites and Sunnis?

  1. Their differences go back to 632 AD when Mohammad died.

    Map showing distribution of Sunni (light green) and Shiite (dark green) Muslims
    Map showing distribution of Sunni (light green) and Shiite (dark green) Muslims
  2. The issue that divided them centered around whom must rule the Islamic Empire after the death of Mohammad.
  3. Sunnis believe that the Caliphs should rule, which is historically what happened.
  4. Shiites believe that the family bloodline of Mohammad should rule and the Caliphs were evil people who unrightfully took over the power after Mohammad.
  5. There are 1.6 billion Muslims in the world. 85% are Sunnis and 15% are Shiites. Shiites are the majority only in Iran and Iraq.