London: Iranians in Diaspora Trip - From London to Liverpool

by Rev. Lisa Johnson, for the team

“The Iranian Diaspora wants to bless others and receive from others for the sake of the Kingdom. It is not hard to see that we are not the only broken people.”
-Pastor Shapoor, Liverpool Iranian Church

Early this morning our team boarded a train in London and rode a picturesque two hours to Liverpool where we were greeted warmly with flowers and hugs from the two bi-vocational pastors of Liverpool Iranian Church, Shapoor and Mehrdad. Their church is made up of 120 people all of Muslim background and they are uniquely blessed that 30-40 of those church family members are youth and children.

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London: Iranians in Diaspora Trip - More Precious than Gold

by Brian Stewart, for the team

“The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. The decrees of the Lord are firm, and all of them are righteous. They are more precious than gold,…”   Psalm 19:7-10a

I’m not sure but I must have a heart for theological education given all the tuition I’ve paid for my three theological degrees. Now I’m studying for a fourth, and my father half-jokingly asked me once whether there was not a pension plan available for career students like me. My answer, of course, was “no,” but there are no doubt incredible dividends for Christ and his Kingdom when leaders are trained to faithfully teach and embody his Word.

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London: Iranians in Diaspora Trip - Lessons from the Ancient and the Modern

by Tracie Stewart, for the team

In 1979 I was a young teenager. I vividly remember the televised images of the Iranian Revolution and Ted Koppel’s nightly report, “America Held Hostage,” with its count of days. Our media often portrays Iran as a violent, backward place frozen in time. What an incredible experience our team had today as we visited the British Museum and encountered artifacts from Iranian history. I knew of Cyrus and his celebrated role in returning the Jewish people to their homeland after the exile. But I had no idea of the beauty, power and sophistication of his empire. It had seemed just a short stop between Babylon and Greece on our way to the Romans.

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London: Iranians in Diaspora Trip -

by Dana Allin, for the team

And he said to them, The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.   Luke 10:2

This passage struck me in a new way today as our group learned more about the ministry of Pars Theological Seminary. Pars is led by Mehrdad Fatehi as its founder, president, and executive director. His daughter, Shadi, is the director of programs and our wonderful and attentive host.

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London: Iranians in Diaspora Trip - Hope of Christ

by Jen Haddox, for the team

Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Matthew 5:11-12 

Today I heard these words preached in a whole new context. I heard them spoken at the Iranian Christian Fellowship in London, among refugees and immigrants from Iran. We observed as they warmly greeted one another as family and welcomed strangers like us as friends. They passionately sang songs of joy, surrender, and hope to their Savior. And the preacher, Brother Robert, who himself was imprisoned for his faith in Iran, spoke about the seemingly paradoxical nature of God’s blessings as they come to us in Jesus Christ. “Poverty of spirit is a gateway to experience God’s blessing.” It is in our willingness to humbly recognize our need for God’s grace that we are blessed. 

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London: Iranians in Diaspora Trip Blog - Tired but Hearty

Our First Day in London: Tired but Hearty

from Tom Widmer, for the team

The Iranians in Diaspora team arrived in London today, arriving from California, Idaho, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina separately. But with God's grace, we found each other! The purpose of this trip is to meet Iranians who have left their home country and are living abroad, actively doing ministry to others in diaspora but also to those still in Iran. Our team is small in number (seven), tired from overnight fights, but curious and eager to get started.

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Egypt Trip Blog: For the Sake of the Church

by Nancy Fox

Jesus said to Peter, “...I will build my church” (Mt 16). The Evangelical Theological Seminary of Cairo (ETSC) exists for the sake of the church, in order to serve in the Lord’s work of building up his body of called out ones. Our five days in which we visited fourteen diverse churches in the heart of Egypt was the best possible introduction to the work of ETSC because we saw and heard daily of the life-giving impact especially of ETSC’s mission program, which The Outreach Foundation (Outreach) was privileged to support and the seminary President Atef Gendy to start in 2001.

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Egypt Trip Blog: The Church in Egypt

by Rob Weingartner

Our time here  is quickly drawing to a close, and we are discovering that even as our hearts turn towards home, a part of our hearts will remain here, in Egypt, with the church. Outreach’s board chair, Rev. Dr. Nancy Fox, Stephanie Eshelman, a member of National Presbyterian Church, and I have been richly blessed, including by the Egyptians who joined us for our journey south to visit churches in the cities and villages of Upper Egypt. We thank God for Mourad Sedley (churchman and travel agent extraordinaire), Amany Shokry (staff with the Pastoral and Outreach Ministries Council of the Synod of the Nile) and Tharwat Wahba (Director of the POMC and Professor of Missiology at the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo.

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Egypt Trip Blog - The Water of Life

by Nancy Fox, for the team

The Nile River has always been the source of life in Egypt. For the last three days, we have been working our way up the Nile, South from Cairo, passing through various types of desert as well as agricultural communities, villages and cities, crossing and re-crossing the river on bridges and even one ferry. Over the centuries, but especially since the building of the Aswan Dam, Egyptians have built 24,000 miles of canals to bring this water of life to their communities, farms, and homes. With water (and some hard work and fertilizer, all the fullness of life is made possible.

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Lebanon/Syria Final Blog: YES

by Marilyn Borst

For no matter how many promises God has made, they are YES in Christ. (II Corinthians 1: 20)

In the pile of rubble that was once the sanctuary of the Aleppo Presbyterian Church, we rooted about and claimed some small, portable mementos: a tattered Sunday School coloring sheet of Noah’s ark, a page from a commentary on Ezra from the pastor’s study, a 6” square of glazed tile, a bit of carved plaster from a molding…My “treasure” was a golf-ball size piece of carved glass which had once been a part of a chandelier. I had worshiped on this very spot eight years ago. Standing there upon the ruins of this historic church might have been a depressing experience – a reminder of the destructive evil that is war – had it not been for the assurance that this place was not the Presbyterian Church in Aleppo.

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Lebanon/Syria Day Eight: Coming Full Circle

by Tom and Joy Boone, for the team

Thursday in Damascus was to feature three official conversations and a bit of shopping to support Syrian seamstresses in business hoping to support their families in war. On the surface, it was a typical last day. But, by God’s will a bullet-list agenda became a journey, which birthed a story bringing us full circle.

The journey began with our Lord’s words from Acts 9, “Go to the street called ‘Straight’.” These words drew us forward, along that famous street past the area where Ananias baptized Saul of Tarsus.

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Lebanon/Syria Day Seven/Part Two: And We Are Still Living

by Jim Wood, for the team

As he speaks, I strain to hear over the shelling. Relentless, less than a mile away. New for me but daily – 2,300 straight days daily – for him and the 180 or so beautiful bright smiling preschoolers romping around us. Knowing the question on my face, Pastor Ma’an Bitar looks at the children and says, “They sleep hearing voices and they wake hearing voices.”

“Only our city remained,” he speaks with deep pride. Mhardeh, his rural town of 23,000, all Christian, three hours north of Damascus is the only town or village where all chose – choose –not to flee. Stubborn defiance. The photos of the martyrs, those young and old killed by the crisis, memorially ensconced on his Presbyterian church walls. A growing roll call of saints. “And we are still living.” His words bring chills.

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