“Jesus rose from the dead to give us a new heart and a new mind when we believe in Him. We can be forgiven. We are made new like spring, like your Nowruz.”
Nowruz, the Persian New Year, presents incredible opportunities for our team to share the hope of Jesus. Read on to hear one of our stories from this Nowruz season:
My friends and I tumble out of the metro, joining the herd of commuters transferring to another metro line that will take us to the city center. We look beside us and notice an Iranian family. Surely, they are some of the 40,000 Persians flooding into our city for Nowruz! How can we connect with them? How can we start a conversation and ultimately share the gospel?
We bump and sway up the stairs, and I “accidentally” fall against the auntie from this Iranian family. She smiles when I say “sorry,” and then I greet her in Farsi. She acknowledges her surprise and invites more communication with her kind expression. Inside, I’m so excited! Then, the university-age daughter is pulled forward, and her excellent English saves the day. Suddenly, my three friends and I are “tour guides” to an Iranian family. The hope we carry to share the Gospel grows high!
“Are you a religious person?” I ask Shema a full 15 minutes later.
“I believe God is like powder,” is her reply, “A little of Him is in all of us, and together, we collectively are God.”
Her New Age/Sufi/Buddhist perspective isn’t new to my ears. But my heart still aches over the delusion she is living under in order to emotionally survive in a country where God is distant and love a dim hope.
Despite her twisted views of God, Shema’s fear of a coming Judgment Day remains: “I do not know what will happen to me on Judgment Day, but I hope that I have been a good enough person.”
Shema glances through the tiny track I give her called “Hope”.
She listens as I tell the story of the Pharisee and the Sinner who both pray before God. When I conclude that “God listens to and loves the one who is honest about his shame,” Shema’s eyes fix on mine. She does not interrupt and seems to listen open-heartedly.
How can I help her understand what Jesus’ death and resurrection have given her? How can I help her see that she is valuable to God and does not have to delude herself into a fantasy world of enlightenment to cover the shame that is always pressing upon her mind?
“God is a being, not powder. And Jesus was more than a prophet. It says in the Injil that He is God. He created us and loves us. Jesus was sent by God to die for our shame and bridge the distance between us and God. Jesus rose from the dead to give us a new heart and a new mind when we believe in Him. We can be forgiven. We are made new like spring, like your Nowruz.”
Shema looks down at the hope track and begins to read it now. After a few minutes I ask her, “What do you think about what I told you about Jesus?” Suddenly, her family is ready to leave, and the Gospel encounter has come to an end.
Or has it?
Shema is one of many Iranian youth who will be visiting our city during this Nowruz. Pray that the truth of Jesus will shine through the blindness and delusion they have learned to cultivate and accept in order to survive in a spiritual and emotional vacuum.
Pray for Shema. Pray that she will agree to meet again and talk more about Jesus and the restoration of her relationship with Father God.