The Gospel is largely unknown in this region
In AD 818 Ali ibn Musa al-Rida (Ali Reza) the seventh descendant of the Islamic prophet Mohammed was poisoned and buried in the small town which later became the city of Mashhad in Northeastern Iran. Ali Reza was known for his piety and he is now revered by Iranian Shi’a Muslims. He was the eighth Imam (head spiritual leader) of Shi’a Islam. Some considered him leader of all Muslims. His life and position made his tomb a sacred place for pilgrims. Over ten million people (mostly Iranians) visit his tomb each year.
Mashhad has grown significantly during recent years. Large malls and super markets as well as department stores, parks and other attractions have popped up in the city. Agricultural and industrial activity has boomed during the past decades in suburban areas. Mashhad has become the second largest city in Iran with a population of about 2.5 million people.
No one really knows how many people in Mashhad believe in Jesus as their saving king. All of them are under the threat of government persecution. One of Iran’s leading Protestant pastors from Mashhad was executed by hanging in December 1990 after a sharia court (an Islamic Court) condemned him. Even now many other believers from Mashhad have suffered for their faith. The vast majority of people in the city have very little understanding of the Gospel. Happily, the number of Iranian believers continues to grow even during persecution.
- Scriptures to meditate on and to proclaim in prayer: Acts 7:55-60, Luke 23:34, Luke 11:4.
- Pray for the millions of people in this city who do not know the living God. Even if they have heard much about the God of Abraham through Islamic traditions and the Qur’an, most of them still know very little of the true God by personal experience. They are far from receiving forgiveness and new life through the Messiah.
From Timo in Darfur
You wouldn’t ever guess that he is someone called by God to reach his own people. He looks like any other young Sudanese… eating like all the others, moving around on transport like all the others, even wearing the traditional Muslim ‘jalabiyya’ like most Muslims in Darfur. But Timo is a light in the darkness. He brings Living Water to people in a dry and weary land. He is reaching out to those in this war-torn area.
The refugee camps spread for miles around the capital city of Darfur. Most days, Timo wakes early and prepares something to eat with his house-mate Abdo. He pulls the long white ‘jalabiyya’ over his head and place the small white ‘tagiyya’ on his head. He walks to the bus station with many others, waits in a long time for the right bus, and then pays a few precious coins for his ride to the edge of town. The bus unloads at the guarded gate of the refugee camp. People wander in and out, many of them being stopped for questioning or to be searched. If Timo were white, he would have a hard time clearing security. If he announced that he was bringing the Gospel message inside the camp walls, he would most certainly not be allowed. But Timo blends right in… and no one can see the Bibles he is carrying underneath the loose outer garment.
He has come to disciple the believers in the camp. He makes this journey as often as he can to meet together with new believers who would have no other way to learn the word of God. Because of this humble, obedient Sudanese servant named Timo… light is being spread amongst the lost in Darfur.