Standing Strong Through the Storm - Sunday, January 19, 2014

ONE BIG FAMILY IN CHRIST

The righteous perish, and no one takes it to heart; the devout are taken away, and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil. Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death. Isaiah 57:1-2

I was reading this scripture on January 19th, 1994, the day Bishop Haik Hovsepian-Mehr mysteriously disappeared en route to the airport in the capital of Iran. He had spoken out courageously against the persecution of Iranian Christians and the closure of the Iranian Bible Society as well as the closing of a number of churches across Iran. He had campaigned vigorously for the release of Rev. Mehdi Dibaj from prison and had acted as substitute father for Mehdi’s four children during his imprisonment in addition to his own four children. Days later his dead body with multiple stab wounds was identified.

Iranian Christians reported that the bishop was a brave and humble man who was much loved and respected by the church community in Iran. They added that in his last few weeks of life, he would often speak about his possible martyrdom for which he was prepared. At his memorial service one of his taped sermons was played which spoke about giving your life for the sake of Jesus. One of his statements regarding the possibility of losing his life was made to Brother Andrew just weeks before he died, “I will not die a silent death!”

Today’s verses from the Bible gave me great encouragement as to the purpose of God in allowing martyrdom among His people. They rest in peace. But what about their families?

This day and event changed the life of Haik’s son, Andre, forever. He says, “As a pastor’s son growing up in Iran, I got used to the fact that sometimes my dad would be gone for a day or two for interrogation. But then on that dreadful day in January ’94, my father left the house and never came back.”

Looking back, Andre testifies that God used the love and support of the body of Christ to bring the Hovsepian family courage during the dark days following his father’s murder. “It meant a lot to me that someone I didn’t know from another country was praying for me and was caring for me.”

Andre and his mother, Takoosh, now live in the United States where they use their freedom to continue ministry to Iran via satellite. They produce programs, movies, teaching materials and music to air in all the Farsi-speaking nations like Iran, Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Andre and his family really value your prayers as, following in the footsteps of Haik himself, they work to advance the kingdom in those countries where still today faith costs the most.

He concludes, “I learned we are one big family in Christ—and I think that was the number one thing which gave us courage and helped us heal.”

RESPONSE: Today I will accept the purposes of God in the martyrdom of His saints and pray for courage and healing among the members of the families left behind.

PRAYER: Thank You, Lord, for the way you are using the Hovsepian family in ministry back to their original homeland and region. May their efforts greatly expand Your kingdom.

Standing Strong Through The Storm (SSTS), a daily devotional message by SSTS author Paul Estabrooks. © 2011 Open Doors International. Used by permission.

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