Count the Cost
“With the loud voice of the prison guard, our visitation had ended and they put covers over our eyes and we returned to the dark room void of any natural sunlight. I started praying for my family.”
This was written by Pastor Saeed Abedini in a letter to his wife. Pastor Saeed was born in Iran as a Muslim. When he was 20 years old he became a believer in the Jesus of the Bible. At the time of his conversion, converting to Christianity was legal in Iran. Over the next several years, and as Christianity became illegal, Saeed worked diligently with the underground church, risking his life to bring the gospel to his people. He married an American woman, became an American citizen and became a pastor in Idaho. He has two beautiful children and is a dedicated father. But he did not give up on his people. Even after being arrested in 2009 in Iran he continued to visit several times a year to help in an orphanage that his family runs. On his last trip he was arrested and put into prison. He has been beaten over and over again, every time being told, “If you deny Jesus we will stop beating you.” But his faith only grows. He has chosen to live a life for Christ, he has counted the cost.
When I read the letter written to his wife, and I see that he was praying for his family, I feel a deep conviction in my heart. So often we feel bad for ourselves. We think life can be so hard and we shrink back at the slightest bit of persecution. But here is a man that is being beaten for his faith, he is being persecuted for his good works, and yet still praying for his family! We need to wake up and become bold for Jesus! We are afraid of someone laughing at us and here is a man that is being beaten, kept in solitary confinement and tortured for his faith. The cost is great, but the reward is even better. Pastor Saeed has spoken of a great joy the Lord has given him as he forgives his torturers. FORGIVES HIS TORTURERS! This seems impossible, almost illogical. But he counted the cost, he has given his life for Christ and he will follow Him at all costs. Life may be difficult at times and does not always go as planned. But there is joy in Jesus. There is forgiveness through his shed blood. We often say we want to live for Christ, but far too often forget to count the cost. When difficult times come, as they will (we walk on the narrow road), we often shrink back to fleshly comforts. Its time for us to count the cost of living our lives for Jesus and decide if we are willing to put it all on the line. Its time for us to stand up for Christ and stand in prayer for the persecuted Church around the world. Its time to get out of our comfortable bubble that we so often live within and step out in faith. So count the cost and decide: are you willing to surrender? Can you handle it?