Have you ever felt like this? Have you ever felt that you ask, you seek and you pray, but there seems to be no answer. Time and time again?
What about all of the American church, not even mentioning the church around the world praying for a young American pastor, Pastor Saeed. Surely we have all heard his story, certainly we have prayed. Pastor Saeed, a servant of the Lord felt called to share his faith in Iran and build houses for orphans. He was arrested in September of 2012 and sentenced in the end of that year to 8 years in the Evin Prison. One of the harshest prisons in Iran.
Does it seem like God is not hearing? Does it seem that God doesn’t care. From our human standpoint, that is often how it seems – and we continue to pray.
What is God doing? Certainly He is in control.
There is a story in the Bible about unanswered prayer.
Hannah in 1 Samuel 1, prayed for a child. Day after day, Hannah prayed for a child because her husband’s other wife, (not a good idea when you read this story in 1 Samuel, certainly not God’s idea to have 2 wives) Peninnah had many children and tormented Hannah. The story is told, Hannah agonized and prayed for a son.
But in this story, we can get some insight from God. He was looking for a man to deliver His whole nation from their wicked ways. God waited. Hannah at first prayed, ‘give me a son so I can get out of my plight’, but as time went on, Hannah began to pray according to His will,
1 Samuel 1:11, ‘Then she made a vow and said, “O LORD of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a male child, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life,…”‘
Hannah bore Samuel,who was that man God used to deliver a whole nation from their wicked ways.
A letter from Pastor Saeed successfully got outside the walls of the Evin Prison and was posted on social media on February 22, 2013. This letter is written from his heart to the church.
All who believe in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior are the church.
It can be read in its entirety at SaveSaeed.org.
He writes of the conditions,
“The conditions here get s very difficult that my eyes get blurry, my body does not have the strength to walk, and my steps become very weak and shaky. Various (bullying) groups, the psycological warfare, almost a year of not seeing my family, physical violence, actions committed to humiliate me, insults, being mocked, being confronted with extremists in the prison who create another prison within the prison walls, and the death threats…”
But Pastor Saeed speaks as a shepherd, as that is what a pastor is, a shepherd. He comforts the flock, and he leads them.
“I can clearly see what is going on and because I want to serve God, I see all these difficulties as golden opportunities and great doors to serve.
There are empty containers who are thirsty for a taste of the Living Water and we can quench their thirst by giving them Jesus Christ. Maybe you are also in such a situation, so pray and seek God that He would use you and direct you in the pressures and difficulties of your lives.”
Our Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ has told us to , “Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, , pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.” Matthew 5:44.
Pastor Saeed writes in his letter, “There is another group who does not know the gospel of Truth. Instead of truly listening and meditating on God’s word, they are just waiting to see how I react to all of their pressures and persecutions what will come out of me during these intense times? But again, this is another golden opportunity for me to shine the light of Christ in this dark world and to let God use me.”
God is shining in that horrible place. Through His surrendered vessel.
Pastor Saeed writes more,
“Yesterday when I was singing worship songs, the head of my cell room attacked me in order to stop me from praising but in response I hugged him and showed him love. He was shocked.”
I have to confess, I have not prayed much for the Muslim people.I have not looked at them as individual people. I have been taught by the media that Islam is out to kill innocent people, especially Americans. But I have forgotten that each Muslim is an individual heart and that many are simply ’empty containers who are thirsty for a taste of the Living Water and we can quench their thirst by giving them Jesus Christ.’
I am praying continually for Pastor Saeed’s release as I know that you are as well. God has touched my heart through his letter to the church. He does not ask that he be released somehow, instead he shares,
“It is during these harsh conditions that I deeply need God’s Saving Grace so that I can be the fragrant scent of Christ in the dark house of Evin Prison.”
And prayers have been answered, not in ways that we prayed, but God has given him His presence,
“I have often seen the Shining Morning Star in the darkness of this prison and I have seen His amazing and supernatural works. Oh, how beautiful is seeing the light of the Shining Morning Star of Christ in such evil darkness…I love Him! He is Gracious, Merciful, and Righteous to me. I now know that I have not been forgotten and that we are together in this path. God gives me Grace.”
And as a shepherd, he gives direction to the flock,
-see your golden opportunities in pressures and difficulties.
-see the Shining Morning Star in the dark times of your life.”
Asking, seeking, knocking for the Love of Jesus Christ to reach those who will have ears to hear in the Muslim world. May the church have a heart in line with the will of God. He loves the people in the Muslim world. How we need to be praying that ‘the empty containers who are thirsty for a taste of the Living Water’ will have someone who ‘can quench their thirst by giving them Jesus Christ.’
Praying without ceasing for Pastor Saeed as he asked, that God would give him grace, God’s Saving Grace so that he can be a fragrant scent of Christ while he is in that dark house of Evin prison. Praying for the Muslim people as well, and that his cellmates might continue to be shocked by the Love of Christ through Saeed. And ultimately, that salvation would find its way in that dark place.
“With God, all things are possible.” “Lord, teach us to pray.”