Many are imprisoned around the world for following Jesus, but how would you cope knowing that at any time your Mum and Dad could be arrested? In Iran the situation is not uncommon. And some parents, especially those of church leaders, prepare their children for a time when the police will come to take them away.
“I knew the day would come… The day they would ring my doorbell and take me and my husband to prison. Although everyone around me thought I was a housewife, I was involved in full-time ministry. The authorities were bound to find out…”
“We started preparing our daughter Lily* for persecution when she was still in primary school. ‘Don’t worry,’ we told her. ‘The Bible tells us it is normal to be persecuted as believers. They will take us to prison, ask us some questions, and hit us. Then we will come back.’
“It was an early winter morning when the authorities came. Lily was 12 at the time and had already left for school. They searched everything. Then they ordered my husband and me to come with them.
“I insisted that I call my sister before coming with them. How could they let a 12-year-old come home to an empty house – a house she didn’t even have a key to? Reluctantly, they let me call.
“I knew what Lily would do when she was picked up from school by my sister – she would pray for us. And when she was afraid, she would pray more. She would also call a friend in our ministry like we had instructed her to do. This friend had promised to take care of Lily while we were in prison.”
“In prison, my husband and I were split up. I was allowed to call Lily four times a week. I was interrogated daily. Soon they found my weak point: my little girl. I told them everything they wanted to know about myself, but I refused to give the names of others. ‘Okay,’ they told me, ‘as long as you won’t give names, you can’t call your daughter.’ I was devastated. Back in my cell, I couldn’t stop crying.”
“I couldn’t sleep that night. On top of everything it was freezing cold. It was mid-winter with no heating and the windows of my little cell were broken. But while I was praying, all of the sudden I felt a warm wind stroking my cheeks. ‘Take it in,’ I heard the Lord saying.
“With every breath of warm air I took, I felt my body being filled with joy. I had to dance for joy and praise God. All night I was dancing for the Lord. I had the strength to put my beloved daughter in the hands of God.”
I saw His light most clearly in the darkest of circumstances. He cared for me and he was working in me. He still does, I feel this very clearly every single day.
“Not long afterwards I was released, as was my husband. I learned that on that cold night in prison, my fellow believers had been praying for me to receive peace and joy. I saw His light most clearly in the darkest of circumstances. He cared for me and he was working in me. He still does, I feel this very clearly every single day.
“I was very happy to see my little Lily again. She told me that she had been praying a lot for us. Spending these times in prayer and trusting the Lord in everything was a completely new experience for her. Looking back, she says that she never grew more in her faith than during that time we were in prison. I gave my Lilly in the hands of the Lord, and He had taken care of her.”
*Names changed for security reasons
Iran ranks as number nine on Open Doors 2016 World Watch List. Ethnic Persians in Iran are considered to be Muslim and apostasy (leaving Islam) is punishable by death for men and life-long imprisonment for women. At least 108 Christians were arrested or imprisoned in 2015, and in several cases they have been physically and mentally abused.
Source: Open Doors
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imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.