In Teheran is the -sadly- well known Evin jail. People in this jail don’t get this nice meal which Judith made last night. I am impressed by the story of the girls Maryam Rostampour an Marziyeh Amirizadeh. They were in jail in 2009, for around nine months, Reason: Sharing the gospel in Iran. What I found so astonishing about their story is not how God revealed Himself during this time. Not only the illness, weakness, pain and suffering which they had to go through. It is hard to imagine though that these things are happening on this planet while I am happily writing a blog around my kitchentable.
But what struck me the most is their unfailing faith. And no doubt. Just not the slightest bit of doubt during the whole time. Matth. 24:13 But he who stands firm to the end, will be saved. Standing firm, quite a call. That is so impressive to me. People talked to the girls, if they couldn”t be a bit more at ease about certain perspectives, the guards were wiling to get them into freedom and talked together how to make it happen, but the girls were not changing and making compromises in letting go of their faith! Not the tiniest bit. They didn’t give in, not the least! Trusting God.
There has been another book about the persecuted church what I have been reading lately and that had also encouraged me, more or less about the same subject. Anneke Companjen writes about suffering in different ways in “singing through the night”” And I have to say that it brought a bit of healing to me, because we have also been in a difficult period, a while ago. Things you don’t write about on a blog or in newsletters. Things can be messy and painful, complicated and unclear when you are in the midst of it. What I found the hardest in all that was that I started to distrust people around me. It is so easy to started wandering of the main point. And I would give in, just straight away. It was actually scary to me to see how easily I do that. It brought distance between Jelle and me, because-as I see now-I was not keeping myself focussed on the main point.
When you sent me an e-mail, I have a standard quote from Augustine from Hippo, to remind myself: In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty and in all things charity. At times I find it nearly impossible to accept that there are different perspectives and that we simply have to live with that fact. But at times we are called to make a choice and live with the consequences. And in it are we called to trust and follow step by step. It was quite a lesson, but now we can look back and we can see that it is a beautiful humbling process in which you are to get to know yourself and in our case, my Jelle better. And although it has been a tense point between us, finally it got us closer to each other, but it can be a long way of focusing on -and understanding of the essentials.
I have deep respect for the Iranian girls. It is very encouraging for me to read and I remind myself : Just go on, keep your eyes fixed on God, who send his Son, who lived and died and rose again, and that for people like you and me. And through his Holy Spirit makes this clear to us. How I need Him!
Comfort, comfort my people, says your God,
speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her service had been completed,
that her sin has been paid for,
that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.
Is. 40: 1