Inspiring Story: Serving Christ No Matter What the Cost
Today's Inspiring Story comes from The Voice of the Martyrs' recent magazine (Sept 2009). In the interest of keeping this post from growing too large, I have edited it, so I encourage you to read the full story for yourself. "I could tell that I was touching death. I realized, 'I am going to die.'" ... "I swim so well that when I shower I drown," Hussein says now, chuckling. He'd never learned to swim. Still Hussein waded, ankle deep, into the water. The waves looked small. He moved a bit further until he was knee deep. And then... nothing, the sandy floor had disappeared. Hussein was out too far, sinking in the waves, touching death. He was thrashing now, panicking. Then he began praying.
"I said, 'Christ give me one more chance. I never ministered for you. I will minister for you if you do this. Just give me one more chance!'" Hussein had sensed a call to ministry, but had not answered. Answering a call to ministry in Iran is dangerous. Hussein was not willing to sacrifice his good job, house, or his freedom. But now, his comfortable life was about to sink into the sea. "Then all of a sudden I started going up and up and up," he said. Three lifeguards pulled Hussein out of death's grip. Later, they said they saved him because he seemed to be a strong swimmer who would not pull them under during the rescue attempt. But Hussein knew whose power really kept him safe. He knew who provided the strength for his "swimming." Hussein emerged from the water with a new life's purpose. He was ready to serve the Lord full time. Other Iranian church leaders told him to think about his decision. "You almost died," they told him. "You're feeling emotional right now. Do you know how hard it is to minister in Iran?" "I don't care," Hussein answered. "I have to. Jesus gave me one more chance, and I have to do this. It doesn't matter if i have to sacrifice everything I have, I will do this." Over the next month Hussein quit his job (even though his boss offered him a promotion to stay), sold his car and paid his debts. His passion won over church leaders and Hussein was assigned as a apprentice to a pastor and his wife. For 30 days Hussein observed how difficult it was to minister in Iran. He observed how his mentoring couple had to carefully screen and select people with whom to share Christ. He went along on trips where secret meetings were held in homes all across Iran. God confirmed Hussein's calling with miracles. One day, as he and his trainers walked into a house in southern Iran, the daughter in the family began to cry. She told the visiting strangers she dreamed of Christ. In the dream Christ led her to a table where she sat down with three people. She was amazed the three people in her dream were now standing right in front of her! After a month's apprenticeship, Hussein was sent into full time ministry with a female co-leader who would minister to women... But ministry in Iran is not free; soon Hussein would have to pay a hefty price to obey God. But even in that, Christ's hand was clearly at work.He was arrested while holding a Christian meeting, and the police where not particularly kind to him. While in his cell (solitary confinement), his mind worried and wondered.
His thoughts tormented him, keeping him from sleep until... "Let's pray together." Hussein heard the whisper clearly. "To hear God, like you hear water or anything else..." he says now. "I felt like Jesus put everything aside, the whole world aside, to come to me and whisper in my ear. I don't remember exactly what He said, but He told me how to pray and what to pray for. I started to pray, and I got the peace that is beyond understanding. I felt so close to God at that moment. Jesus said to me, 'There is no need for you to say anything because I am going to tell you what to say. Why are you afraid? At the end you are going to die, right? So why don't you just serve? Don't you have faith that when you close your eyes in this world, you will open them up to me? And when you open your eyes, you will be in my arms? Didn't you get the teaching that whoever has more persecution gets a bigger crown? So why are you saying any of this?' I think that if this situation had never happened to me, I would probably never have heard the voice of God as clearly as I did at that moment. I could feel the presence of God. The fear was gone. I was worried about nothing. Because Jesus said, 'Don't worry. Let me do everything, give me the responsibilities. Just think: When you come out, how much more glory you are going to give me and how many people might come to me because of this.'" The peace of God remained with Hussein while he was interrogated for the next several days.This kind of interrogation involves torture, whether mental, physical, or both. After 10 days of this and solitary, Hussein was transferred to death row for being a "blasphemer of the Holies"; He was considered an apostate. While on death row, Hussein witnessed God's favor. He was given a good bed by some gang members, who treated him like royalty. His family brought collateral to bail him out. In addition, a judge corrected some mistakes on Hussein's file and showed him how to file the appeal. He then proceeded to provide Hussein with his cell phone number and "offered to personally supervise the case." Hussein says, "...Look how many doors God opened for me! This is why I want to serve, because I know Christ is with me. I learned that it is not what I want in a situation, but what he wants, because that is so much better." When the interviewer asked how Hussein is preparing for his next encounter with persecution, Hussein answered, "I think one of two things will happen. They will either kill me or there will other miraculous events like these. Which one is bad?"