Training and Refreshing the Underground Church Leaders of Iran
Transform Iran is passionate about leadership development. The Church in Iran is growing fast. Converts are relatively ‘easy’. But disciples, and from those, leaders who can help disciple more converts, that takes more effort – and it is the key to a strong, well-established, Bible-rooted Church. A Church that can truly influence and transform a whole nation into the image of Christ.
Converts are discipled remotely and brought to a place where they can be fruitful and reproduce, contributing to the expansion of God’s work in our country. As they grow in ministry, they are invited to strategic training events in various safe locations across the Middle East where they can enjoy ‘in person’ times of fellowship, worship and communion. Here, we pour into them more of the Word, and almost just as importantly, encouragement and strength that will send them back to the mission field edified, refreshed, resourced, and re-envisioned for their call. This is also an opportunity for many of these leaders to be baptized in a public setting, and worship freely (and loudly!) together with a group of others without fear of arrest or imprisonment. Many have never experience these luxuries before. We cannot overemphasize enough just how important these times are for our leaders. They are lifelines.
We recently conducted an event like this with a group of women who lead house churches in Iran. The theme for the event was ‘Be Renewed!’ (Colossians 3:10).
42 participated. The teaching was conducted by our own seasoned women leaders, with the exception of a few sessions led by the overseeing pastor of the host church.
Nine women were baptized in water, and after Holy Communion, four women received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Many were freed from all manner of hurts and bondages from the past.
I always wish we could have a before and after photo from each participant! They arrived weary from life’s burdens. Some were filled with anger and rage; some had been raped and had gone through many hardships. Three of our women had been saved and delivered from prostitution. Some mothers had children with serious illnesses, for whom we prayed, and we are expecting to hear the good news of their healings. But they gave their heavy burdens to the Lord. They left strengthened. They decided to go deeper in their relationship with God. They took home some practical tools for living a holy, victorious, and purposed driven life. Praise God!
– Pastor Stella, Conference organizer / speaker
Seminars included practical steps to face and deal with their emotions particularly in the context of trauma they have faced in their past or under persecution as Christians; teaching on forgiveness; study on Ruth and how God restores broken women; living as ‘new creations’; and more.
The women also heard in person the powerful testimony of a survivor of intense persecution and long-term imprisonment in Iran.”
“I came from a thick darkness. I was tired and empty, and heartbroken by emotional trauma. Just like a car that had run out of fuel, I needed to refuel. I came with a lot of pain. I talked to one of the pastors. I recounted all the unspoken. We prayed together, I was able to forgive, and I felt that all those soul-ties were broken. My heavy burdens were lifted. How good is our God! I am filled with the peace of God and now I am free.”
“I have come with a broken heart and a heavy burden that I have carried as a child which have weighed down in my heart for years. I came to put them all under the cross of Jesus Christ. To be renewed and become the child that Christ would be proud of. Thank you very much for all your efforts, and especially to God. I learned to surrender myself to the Father, who loves me dearly, and in spite of all my mistakes, weaknesses, and sins, he embraced me and delivered me from captivity. I realized that I needed to spend more time with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The whole seminar was a blessing to me, and everything I learned many things from each session that expanded my understanding. Thank you!”
“I came to this conference with a lot of pain, being violated by my husband. I learned the price of being a disciple of Christ. I realized that He is the One who fills the emptiness in my life. He is the One with whom I can share everything. From now on I will tell him all my heartache and will share my emotions with Him. From now on, I will trust and rely on Him who is my shield and washed all my sins away, more than before.”
“In this conference I calmed down. I repented, I forgave, and I was forgiven. I became acquainted with Jesus Christ, that there is power in His name, every chain is broken in His name. Although I’m at the beginning of the journey, I am eager to continue with Him.”
“Thank God that today I was able to express the unspoken words of the years that weighed on my heart like a great wound. I heard God saying to me: “You were like an unripe fruit, but you return home like a ripe, sweet and tasty fruit.” As a child I had never laughed from the bottom of my heart. I was always sad. But this week God showed me in a dream that I was standing in a peaceful place, full of the fragrance of Christ, happy, smiling. I was dancing like a child full of joy. Then God stretched His hands towards me and grabbed my little hands. How delightful it was to hear, “Welcome! From now on you can smile. I’m with you!” I arrived here sad and empty, with a baggage of despair, but I’m going back home blessed and filled with God’s love.”