Small Group Tools
Contemporary Comments 2017
Texts: Daniel 1–12; Isaiah 39:5–7; Daniel 2:44; Matthew 24:14, 15; Genesis 41
It’s considered a crime punishable by death in some countries. Converting to Christianity is a serious offense and apostatizing from non-Christian religions to faith in Christ has been met by confiscation of Bibles, beatings, prison sentences, years of hard labor, and martyrdom. One country that comes down with strong force on Christians is Iran. Just a few years ago 6,500 Bibles were taken away so that people would not be “deceived” with “false propaganda” by missionaries.1
One of the more front-page stories of persecution in Iran focuses on Saeed Abedini, a 32-year-old U.S. citizen who converted to Christianity 13 years ago. While visiting family last year in Iran he was pulled off a bus and imprisoned by authorities. He is married and has two children, a 6-year-old daughter and a 4-year-old son.
His wife shares: “When he became a Christian, he became a criminal in his own country. His passion was to reach the people of Iran,” his wife Naghmeh told Fox News. “He comes from a very close-knit family, and he loved evangelizing and passing out Bibles on the streets of Tehran. This was his passion,” she said.2
Abedini is currently held in Iran’s most brutal prison known for holding the country’s political prisoners. He is being represented by the ACLJ (American Center for Law and Justice) who are working to free him. Abedini grew up in Iran and was granted U.S. citizenship. He’s been indicted by an Iranian court simply because of his Christian faith and could face the death penalty. Mission organizations are not permitted to enter Iran and witnessing to people in this restricted nation is forbidden.
Our Sabbath school lesson this week focuses on the life of one man who was one of the greatest foreign missionaries to Iran in all of history. His name was Daniel. When this exile was carried off to Babylon (in modern-day Iraq), he ended up as an influential statesman in the court of the king. His gifts were not lost to his new captors in Persia (modern-day Iran) where he once more walked among royalty.
When innocent followers of the God of Israel were taken captive and carried to unbelieving nations, the Lord used Daniel and his friends as representatives. Without making any compromises, this exile was a missionary in a land that did not acknowledge the worship of Jehovah. Though Daniel faced a death sentence, God miraculously delivered the faithful servant from the leaders of great nations who had little knowledge of the Creator.
Perhaps there are times you feel like an exile in your Christian walk. You may work among people who only use God’s name in vain. What little information they have about heaven is distorted. Maybe you are misunderstand by your neighbors or even shunned by family members. God calls you to stand as a representative and witness for truth, even in the face of persecution.
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