Middle Eastern Pastor Braves Threat of Death to Spread the Gospel of Jesus

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Pastor Shanti's hangout

Note: Middle Easterner John (purposely not using his real name or nationality for his protection) became a believer in Jesus Christ in 2006. With God leading his every step, John has assembled a congregation of nearly 30 believers in his war-torn country and continues to hold services despite the threat of persecution, and perhaps even death. His English is good, but some of his answers have been edited to compensate for his lack of total knowledge for the language.

CN: First and foremost, how did you get saved? Who told you about the gospel of Jesus Christ and when did that happen?

S: Actually, this takes me almost 8 years back when I was a young guy that has been hurt by hard situations within my family. We lost everything and became in need after previously enjoying a rich life. Moving away from that affected me so hard and took from me every hope a young man can have. I developed a porn addiction so early, at the age 6. That was deep inside of me and deeply affected my thinking and my imagination. There was a lot of brokenness in my heart because of what we went through as a family. One night eight years ago as I watching porn and I heard a voice, and incredible one that I could not resist, saying to me change the channel. I did and there was a Christian TV channel and a pastor looking at the screen and talking about a bible verse. At that moment, I felt some power touching me and I started to cry and weep. I did that for quite some time and fell asleep. The next day I woke up and realized that I was a new man. I felt very light and all the heaviness went from my shoulders. I remember that day I was walking on the street and seeing everything from a new point of view.

CN. Did you ever in your life believe that you would become a follower of Jesus?

S: As a Christian from another background, I have had many opportunities to hear what the Word of God tells us. But, I never thought that someday I would know Christ personally in a way that can bring me to a whole new area in my life.

CN: Just how difficult has it been for you to establish a Christ-believing church in a predominantly Muslim country? How difficult is it to win converts?

A: In our land, there are some official churches, yet the evangelism is not allowed. So, to establish a church with vision to reach others outside the known umbrella was not an option. There was a group of four of us who loved the Word of God and gathered to read it and to pray for each other, and that was the most enjoyable time we could have. But suddenly the Lord started to draw others into our group, and in a short time, we became more than 30 persons. Was it that was easy? No. I say if we call it easy then we left nothing for to God to do. Even the nominal Christians here can report you if you have evangelistic work which is alive and active.

CN: Have you had any issues with the government or with others who don't want to see the gospel preached in your country? Are you fearful at all for your lives or that you may be jailed, and do people not want to convert simply because of that fear?

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