Out of the Iron Furnace
The early Church was born in persecution. The modern Church is born again into it. For Christ followers in restricted nations, their first day as Christians means the very real threat of persecution, disownment, and even death.
Filming for Sheep Among Wolves provided an opportunity for me to meet with leaders from the underground church network in the Middle East. These men and women were the most happy-to-be-saved people I have ever met. They are former Muslims who know very well the evil they have been rescued from. Some of them used to rejoice when they heard that Christians were being harmed, and now they rejoice because they are considered worthy to suffer for the name they once despised. These believers truly understand that their lives are not their own; that they have been bought at a price. Where there is great risk of torture, imprisonment, and rape, these brave souls embrace danger as part of their everyday Christian life. They share the gospel and teach the Bible every day for the same amount of time most people are at work, among those who may murder them because of it. But the worth of Jesus and the promise of more souls being rescued from Islam’s clutches is enough for them. Would it be for us?
If Tony Mendez, played by Ben Affleck in the film Argo (based on true events), endangered himself to rescue six American lives from Tehran during the Iranian revolution, could we not also endanger ours to rescue six souls from the eternal fires of Hell for the sake of Jesus? And could we, like Tony, do so without receiving commendation from the public, but be content knowing the pleasure of the Lord in our obedience to Him at any cost? I submit that we can.
When He saw the crowds [of Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Kurdistan], He had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest."
Believers in the underground Church understand the value of God in ways we never will apart from persecution. With their love for Jesus comes obedience to Him even in the face of death. Christianity in restricted nations is very costly—but they see Jesus as worth paying that cost. They would give ten lives for Him if they had them to give, because to them, He is that valuable. Believers in the Middle East do not hold back from declaring the marvelous gift they have been given in Christ.
When a former Muslim comes to Jesus, they become the boldest evangelists the world has ever known. Would you go and lead them out of the iron furnace of Islam so that they can be?
“But the Lord has taken you and brought you out of the iron furnace, out of Egypt, to be a people of his own inheritance, as you are this day.”
 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
 2 Timothy 3:12
 Afflect, B., Heslov, G., & Clooney, G. (Writers). (n.d.). Argo [Video File].
 Matthew 9:35-38
 Deuteronomy 4:20