TRAINING A COLONY OF ANTS
For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.
— 1 Timothy 4:8 (NIV)
Discipleship training is a significant part of the ministry of Open Doors. Today a report from one of those involved in receiving training in the house churches of Iran:
“I am proud to be an Iranian, but I have to say that daily life has not become easier lately. Three weeks ago I had a small talk with a Muslim in a park near a main street splitting Tehran north and south. We talked in veiled terms about religion and politics. At the end, the Muslim told me, ‘It feels like a big prison, to be living here.’ I agreed, but didn’t dare to say so. I glanced away, thinking of my Christian friend arrested in December 2010 who is still in prison now.
“I realized that I have more freedom than many of my Christian brothers and sisters who are in jail. But after talking with this Muslim, I also realized that since I became Christian, I have even more freedom than he does! Even the Christians in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison have more freedom than Muslims do. It filled me with a feeling of sympathy and I thought about the lessons we had been learning. It’s part of our discipleship training.
“That training really helped our house group. Together with my wife, we are the leaders of this house church, and every week we get together for at least one meeting. We rotate places and days but it is always in the evening. We study parts of the Bible, talk about the paragraphs that we like or don’t understand, and then we try to apply this to our daily life.
“This sounds good maybe, but I often wonder if this is the right way to do it. How should I know? I became a believer six years ago, when I was seventeen. I don’t feel qualified to call myself a leader. What do I know about the role of the Holy Spirit, about a Christian marriage, about explaining the Bible or studying the Bible in the right way? But others came to faith later, so I am the most ‘experienced’ of our group.
“The training helps us enormously to grow in our own leadership roles, but also motivates us to hand down the important things we learned to others. Now we know we have to stay close to the Word of God. Because it is easy to ascribe our own thoughts to the Holy Spirit, we learned how to test them against the Bible. The training also helped us open up and discuss untouched topics, like relationships in marriage and being a servant leader like Jesus was.
“Through this discipleship training, we’ve been so encouraged to know that people all over the world know about us and pray for us. This helps groups like ours to stay spiritually healthy, and grow in numbers, too.
“Even though believers in house groups like ours have to stay hidden and face a lot of difficulties, I think the church of Iran is like a colony of ants: most of them you don’t see!”
RESPONSE: Today I want to see new believers I know discipled in the scriptures. I will do everything possible to teach and model God’s Word.
PRAYER: Pray for the discipleship training in Iran and other Islamic nations. Pray that house groups will continue to grow in their faith and reach out to others around them.
Standing Strong Through The Storm (SSTS), a daily devotional message by SSTS author Paul Estabrooks. © 2011 Open Doors International. Used by permission.