Ever wonder how our Live Dead Iran workers stay connected with new Christians in Iran? One family shares their experience with e-discipleship:
We are by no means experts as we have only been on the field a short time. Even so, we have already connected with many new Iranian friends and even experienced some divine appointments with those who are seeking Jesus.
When our new friends return to Iran, we start discipling them online! The last few months, we have realized two things about online discipleship: it is fun and challenging.
Other cultures don’t view time the same way we Westerners do. We are used to attending church meetings at the same time on the same day of the week, every week. Other cultures don’t necessarily operate that way. Add to that cultural flexibility an oppressive government that watches its people constantly. Understandably, Iranians don’t want their Christian meetings (even online ones) to become a weekly routine. As we disciple our friends, we need to be flexible and understanding. We may only ‘meet’ once every 2-4 weeks, so we try to make that time count. The frequent schedule changes can be challenging, but the upside is that we are growing in adaptability and spontaneity.
Second (and probably the most fun and difficult), is the language barrier. It is such a joy to disciple people who have no background in church – everything is new! Their childlike faith and discovery is exciting and never gets old. We try to keep things as simple as possible. However, just when we think we have everything ready, we start talking about sin and forgiveness… and suddenly we realize that our language is not connecting with our friends at all. It’s great to have questions ready and work through them together, but there are still times when we are completely stumped as to how to get across basic principles of the Gospel and following Jesus. Language plays such a huge part in cultivating understanding, so we have to continually prioritize our Farsi-learning. Language learning is a vital component of discipleship!
Finally, technology varies from place to place. The Internet can have a spotty connection or bad audio. It is simply harder to communicate via media. Your body language communication comes across differently than in person, so there is a lot of misunderstanding and humorous moments.
Thanks be to God that, even through all the obstacles, the Holy Spirit leads us and the discipleship process. Regardless of the challenges, our new family members are learning how to follow Jesus!