If you’re sick of what is happening in our culture, I’d like to share a story of the undeniable power of living fully committed to Jesus.
Last month, I shared the stage with a hero whose plight is tragic, but whose story inspires thrilling hope. As a little girl, Naghmeh Abedini’s family fled from Iran to America to escape the Iran-Iraq war. After college, Naghmeh returned to the country of her birth to serve Jesus. While there, she met and married an Iranian pastor named Saeed. After several years of fruitful ministry, they settled in Idaho to have a family.
But neither Naghmeh nor Saeed could forget the faces of their young Iranian friends, so hungry for truth and so fed up with Islamic radicalism. Risking his life, Saeed traveled to Iran to minister to them. Waiting at home with their two young children, Naghmeh received horrifying news: Saeed had been arrested and sentenced to die for being a Christian.
While Naghmeh fought for her husband through the media and legal channels, even appealing for him to the President, Saeed was being beaten in prison. And yet no amount of torture could stop him from leading his fellow inmates to Christ. The angry Iranian regime retaliated by transferring Saeed to Iran’s most violent prison, filled with murderers. Now hardened criminals are coming to Christ!
And that’s not all. Before a rapt audience of Summit friends, Naghmeh shared that thousands of Iranian young people are coming to Christ. Hundreds of churches are being started. It’s the story of the early church, and it is happening in our lifetime.
But it is not without cost.
Naghmeh and Saeed are paying the cost. From prison, Saeed wrote his 8-year-old daughter, “People die and suffer for their Christian faith all over the world, and some may wonder why. But you should know the answer of WHY is WHO. It is for Jesus. He is worth the price.”
That Jesus is worth the price is the urgent message I will share with thousands of students at Summit this summer. We are experiencing record enrollment, and I believe it’s because this is a generation desperate for something worth living — and dying — for.
In the coming years it will be costly to follow Christ, even in America. As I write, anti-Christian forces are drumming public officials out of office for supporting traditional marriage and shutting down the businesses of those who refuse to let government force them into violating their deeply held convictions.
This isn’t the first time a culture has ignored God. As Ecclesiastes says, “There is nothing new under the sun.” But from India and Southeast Asia to the Middle East, the Gospel is bringing freedom and hope. Isn’t it like God to bring such good in a time of evil?
At Summit, it’s our sweet spot to prepare young leaders for such a time as this. Over the last 53 years, Summit has trained tens of thousands to stand for the truth while fighting on their knees. Who knows where America would be without them?
Please help us prepare young students for such a time as this by sending a teen (ages 16-22) to one of our summer Student Conferences, or by providing financial help for one who otherwise would not be able to come. We are passionate about protecting and shaping the faith of future leaders this year. Summit is changing lives, and through your prayers and support, you are just as much a part of this as our instructors and staff mentors.
Also, please enjoy the transcription of my interview with Naghmeh Abedini in this month’s edition of the Journal, and be encouraged and inspired by this hero of the faith and her family’s incredible story.