Being thankful, but remembering the cost.
This time of the year is always a time when I heave a sigh of relief and drop down exhausted in to one or another chair after the Forum. The flurry of activity leading up to the time of gathering reporting, planning, administering and then executing such events, leaves one weary and worn, but the joy of seeing people connect and friends made old and new is always worth it.
Coming as it usually does shortly before thanksgiving, it also gives one pause to consider the season and this year especially to ponder the things that come to your attention that need the consideration and prayer of the people of God.
It is now one year since our three Azeri brothers were released from Evin prison in Iran to their families. Much rejoicing accompanied this event, and although we were glad to see them released, and would have it no other way, it came at a high financial and emotional cost. I was made very painfully aware of this by one of my Azeri Iranian brothers this year who told me with sadness and in more detail, the situation from the local side of how things had turned out over the following year.
At the time of the jubilation of the Azeri brothers' return, what was not seen, or quite so loudly broadcasted, was that the Iranian brother who they were visiting, not a major leader, merely a house group leader, was also arrested with them, and was sentenced to ten years in prison. He languishes there still to this day. His name is Sam. Sam is brave and honorable and doesn't blame anyone but he is being used like the brothers were, to gain money and information. Lets be sure of this, that if others go in to Iran, more will be arrested and ransomed, and more local people will probably be kept in jail, long after the visitors have all gone home.
Let's take this thanksgiving then to pray for Sam and for the others in jail at this time, held for no good reason except their faith in Christ . Pray that they will be strong and their health sustained, and that Christ will be very close to them, and strengthen every step of their day. Lets pray that the days of their imprisonment may be shortened so that they can return to their families and loved ones, and lets pray that those who are seeking to serve God from outside of the country will do it wisely and under the authority and guidance of the local people.