Rashin Soodmand was 13 years old when her father, Pastor Hossein Soodmand, was executed in Iran for the crime of apostasy. His body was quietly buried in an unmarked grave in a part of the local cemetery reserved for “the cursed.” Yet only three days later, Rashin wrote a letter to God promising to follow Christ boldly, just as her father had—even if it meant great sacrifices. Today she is living out that promise, including ministering to the church inside Iran. Her father wasn’t the only martyr of the Iranian church Rashin knew well. In this second part of our conversation, Rashin shares some of the things she remembers about the other martyrs she knew personally: Haik Hovsepian, who preached at her father’s funeral; Mehdi Dibaj, who encouraged her to attend Bible school; and Pastor Mohammad “Ravanbakhsh” Yusefi. This is Part 2 of our conversation with Rashin; if you missed Part 1 of her amazing testimony, listen here.
Rashin Soodmand was 13 years old when her father, Pastor Hossein Soodmand, was executed by the Iranian government for the crime of apostasy—leaving Islam to follow another faith. Listen as she shares how her family’s life was changed, but also how proud she is of a father who chose to lay down his life rather than deny Christ. Listen as she recalls the man her father was, loving his congregation and loving his family, and how people were drawn to his kindness and love. Rashin will tell how church leaders encouraged Pastor Hossein to take his family, leave Iran and go somewhere safer; hear his exact words as he flatly refused, saying that to do so would discourage the hearts of his congregation. She’ll also describe the last time she saw her dad, and the day she heard that he’d been executed. This is Part 1 of our conversation with Rashin; tune in next week to hear the second half of her story, including how God has used the loss of her father to equip her to minister to hurting people inside and outside of Iran to this day.
Would you like to be on staff, delivering aid and encouragement to persecuted Christians in the 70+ nations where VOM works? Jonathan Eckman leads a staff of 65 people living in 24 nations who conduct VOM’s international ministry, being the hands and feet on the ground among persecuted Christians all over the world. This week he shares about VOM’s international work, and some of the people from among our persecuted family who have inspired his personal faith walk. Listen to understand better how VOM’s international ministry happens in the 70+ nations where VOM works, the importance of partnerships, and where Jonathan sees persecution increasing as we enter a new year; and where things are getting better for Christians—or at least not getting worse. Jonathan will also share how you can pray for VOM workers as they travel in and out of restricted nations and provide help and encouragement to Christians who are persecuted for the name of Christ, as well as their families who remain at home. He’ll also issue a challenge to pray for church and mission leaders conducting Great Commission work in an increasingly complex and hostile world.
This week we continue our look back on some of the amazing testimonies God has allowed VOM Radio to share in 2018. Brother Blake and Brother Joel told us about the state of the church, and the increased persecution, in China and how Chinese Christians wear out their Bibles. Manfred Mueller challenged the way his fellow Germans—and many Americans—think about refugees, urging us to see a gospel opportunity. “Sister Sahar” came to the US as a Muslim student from Saudi Arabia. Today she is a follower of Christ, and she shared ways we, as Christians, can reach out to Muslims we know today. “Brother Fahdi” told us that God is at work in Yemen, drawing Muslims to faith in Christ. Brother Aaron shared the story of how VOM’s help to a Christian family in Central Asia arrived at exactly the right time. John Grooters, the director of Tortured For Christ—The Movie, shared an inspiring chapter from the life of Richard Wurmbrand, VOM’s founder. George Verwer, the founder of Operation Mobilization, encouraged American Christians not to lose gospel focus, and to be intentional about sharing our faith in Christ with people around us. If you’ve been blessed by these snippets from conversations on VOM Radio this year, you’ll want to go back and listen to the entire conversation with each of these guests: Brother Blake and Brother Joel: here and Brother Joel on Bibles in China: here. Manfred Mueller, the head of VOM’s sister office in Germany: here. “Sister Sahar,” from Saudi Arabia: here. “Brother Fahdi,” talking about Yemen and other Middle Eastern countries: here. Aaron, on VOM’s work in Central Asia: here. John Grooters, on the making of Tortured For Christ—The Movie: here, and on the making of the Wurmbrand video-based small-group curriculum: here. George Verwer, the founder of Operation Mobilization: here.
Join us as we look back on some of the amazing testimonies God has allowed VOM Radio to share this year. Helen Berhane explained the power of worshipping the Lord while locked in a shipping container in Eritrea. Gary Witherall talked about God’s help to choose forgiveness, and even love, just minutes after Gary’s wife, Bonnie, was martyred in Lebanon. Brad Phillips shared the story of Morris, a church leader in the Nuba Mountains of Sudan, who forgave the man who attacked his daughter—and even paid the fine to get the young man out of prison. Dan Baumann told what happened when God challenged him to love the man beating him inside a prison in Iran—and the breakthrough that happened when Dan did indeed show love. Finally we’ll hear some of the ways these guests have encouraged us to pray for persecuted Christians this year. If you’re blessed by these snippets from conversations on VOM Radio this year, you’ll want to go back and listen to the entire conversation with each of these guests: Helen Berhane: Part 1 and Part 2 Gary Witherall: Part 1 and Part 2. You can also order a copy of Gary’s book, Total Abandon (affiliate link). Brad Phillips: here. Dan Baumann: Part 1 and Part 2. You can also order a copy of Dan’s book, Cell 58 (affiliate link).
If you’re already in prison for your faith, and facing a possible death penalty, Petr Jasek says you can be even more bold about sharing Jesus. After all…how much worse could your situation get, from an earthly perspective? Jasek and Pastor Hassan Abduraheem Taour were cell mates in a Sudanese prison, on trial together for alleged espionage against the nation of Sudan, and this week they are together on VOM Radio in a special episode recorded at a VOM Advance Conference. Listen to how they found JOY even as they were physically suffering and were separated from families and loved ones. Listen as Petr shares how he could physically feel the prayers of people around the world while he was in prison. Both men will share how God had specifically prepared them to face persecution and imprisonment. Petr will also talk about how God brought back to his mind the words of songs he had learned as a child, and about the invisible “prayer map” on the walls of his prison cell. Both Petr and Hassan will share what it meant to them for Sudanese Christians to gather outside the courtroom and boldly sing hymns of praise to God as the men were taken to and from their court hearings. Finally, you’ll be equipped to pray specifically for Christians in prison right now for their faith in Christ, as well as for their family members waiting, hoping and praying for their incarcerated loved ones. You can hear the VOM Radio interview with Petr Jasek, recorded just eight days after he was released from prison in Sudan, here: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. Our interview with Pastor Hassan is here: Part 1 and Part 2.
Today we conclude China Week on VOM Radio. All week we've looked at the increasing persecution of Christians in China in conjunction with a new VOM Special Report on China. Today: “Sister Amber” shares her story of being arrested and persecuted at the hands of Chinese officials in Tibet. It’s one of the most impactful conversations we’ve ever shared on VOM Radio. Sister Amber spent more than a decade in Tibet, providing vocational training to the people and sharing the gospel message of Christ’s love. She felt God's call especially to work among Tibet's nomadic tribal people, who jokingly call themselves "the roof on the roof of the world." Amber watched as God brought about a great ministry breakthrough: people who'd been totally closed to her message were now asking to learn more about Jesus. But just days after the breakthrough Amber experienced persecution; police came pounding on her door. Listen as she tells the story. You'll hear how God ministered to her in the hardest moments of her suffering. You'll hear how she was eventually released, and the way God showed her that her persecution was not the end of the story. You'll also hear how God laid on the hearts of people around the world to pray for Amber, including one who drew a picture of Amber surrounded by policemen in the interrogation room. Months later, when Amber saw the picture, it matched exactly the setting of her interrogation, but also offered a ray of spiritual hope. Your faith will be challenged as you hear Amber's thoughts on what the New Testament calls the "honor" of being persecuted, and she’ll give first-hand advice on how we can pray for Christians in prison right now. If you did not yet receive a copy of VOM’s Special Report on the increase of persecution in China, request your copy at www.VOMRadio.net/China.
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