By CBF field personnel in Northeast United States
This year we celebrate 21 years as field personnel with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowhsip, called to minister among Persian Speaking Peoples Worldwide (Afghan, Iranian and Tajik). Currently we are based in the Northeast U.S., and reach out to Persian speakers in Baltimore, Delaware, New York City, Pennsylvania and Northern Virginia/D.C. areas. Our ministry is “worldwide” through the web. We have daily contact with Persian speakers, Persian churches and ministries in many countries. This work is made possible by the CBF Offering for Global Missions.
Our Goals and Methods
Our goals are to bear witness to Jesus Christ, to cultivate beloved community, to assist the Global Church and to help with poverty and migration issues. We enter into relationship with people for the purpose of transformational development on both a personal and community level. Our methods involve:
- Evangelism & Discipleship among Persian Speakers
- Leadership Training & Equipping Persian Christian Workers
- Partnership & Networking with others who reach out to Persian Speakers Worldwide
- Persian Christian Resource Development & Distribution
- Humanitarian Relief & Human Rights Advocacy for Persian Speakers
Persian Speakers in the U.S. & Worldwide
Our week is a combination of local Persian ministry and global involvement. Our focus is relational—evangelism and discipleship are the foundations. Often questions arise regarding ministry among Persian speakers—how and why Persian Speakers come to the U.S. and how we reach out to them.
Persian speakers come to the U.S. with a visa. Amazingly, there are approximately 185 different types of visas. The two main categories of U.S. visas are Non-immigrant visas— for temporary visits such as for tourism, business, work or studying—and Immigrant visas —for people to immigrate to the United States.
Often Persian speakers in the U.S. begin their stay with tourist visas and then try to obtain immigration status. Other Persian speakers come as immigrants with refugee status, as asylum seekers. Another way is to win the Diversity Visa Lottery. To come to the U.S. on tourist visa involves an invitation from family or friends. There are an estimated 1.5 million Iranians living in the U.S. and there are a large number of Iranian tourists coming in and out of the U.S. each year. Other Persian speakers that we meet in the U.S. have student visas. They have come to study in the U.S. and bring their spouses with them.
After we meet these Persian Speakers by phone, over the internet or in person we try to introduce them to a community (a Bible study, church or another Christian in their area). One community that has developed is a Persian Language Bible study on Wednesday nights via Skype. Attendance is usually 14-18 Iranians.
We open the Bible and read from a passage in the New Testament. We go through the book chapter by chapter. People take turns reading and we ask simple questions about what the Bible passage says, what it means and how to implement/live it. New people are always welcomed through friends.
One of the Iranians who attends is from Virginia. He invited his cousin who is in Brazil who has invited his Iranian friend who is in Sweden. And so the world connections grow. One of the newcomers told us, “You have shown me how to use the Bible in my life.”
Singing and Prayer
In addition to Bible study we have found music and prayer as two important tools for bearing witness to Christ and building beloved community. Those who come to our gatherings are invited to sing with us and to participate in small choirs. We sing together words of truth and faith. These truths penetrate hearts.
We also pray for each other. We read the Bible together. We listen to each other and we listen to God. Together, we try to discern together what God’s message is to us. We go out in mutual encouragement to do what God tells us. We have found that effective evangelism and discipleship are participatory and inclusive. Hospitality is another important part of our life together. We eat together. We drink tea together and we sit around the table and laugh and talk together.
One of ways we minister is through “pajama party” ministry. Often we spend the night with Persian speaking families whom we have traveled a distance to see.
We have a foam bedroll in the trunk of our car, as often the families we visit have no extra bedroom, so we roll out the bedroll and sleep on their living room floor. Remember pajama parties as a youth? The intimacy that developed in those late night hours as you shared your hearts and really got to know each other. This is what we do.
How do these lives change? They change through the power of Jesus Christ.
Two thoughts I leave with you. Matthew 9: 37-38 ” The harvest is plentiful and the laborers are few.” And Matthew 4:19, “Follow me and I will make YOU fishers of men.” Pray about that word “YOU.”
To learn more about how you and your congregation can partner with field personnel and support ministries like these U.S. Persian ministries through participation in the CBF Offering for Global Missions, visit www.cbf.net/OGM.