Mojtaba is Christian from the Middle East. When he was 20 years old he was arrested for leading a secret house church. This story looks at how scripture – in this case Psalm 23 – can bring us comfort and hope, especially in times of pain and vulnerability.
Mojtaba is Christian from the Middle East. When he was 20 years old he was arrested. His crime? Leading a secret house church.
Mojtaba was to spend three years in prison for his faith in Jesus, and at one point spent 22 days straight in solitary confinement.
He was often blindfolded, beaten, tortured.
At his lowest moments, when he thought he would break with the emotional, mental and physical pressure – Mojtaba would think of Calvary; the cross and all Jesus went through. It was a powerful reminder that we have a Saviour who knows what it is to suffer pain and persecution and who still suffers with us now.
Time after time Mojtaba met Jesus in the place of pain. He describes his experience of prison and persecution like this: “My journey in persecution was a journey with Jesus.” He would pour out his heart, his tears and desperation to God.
“Having faith isn’t always about being brave or bold or like a superhero. He is our hero. It’s ok to pour out your heart – with crying and tears. Just as our Saviour did.” In those moments of vulnerability and coming before God Mojtaba found words of Scripture hope-filled and comforting to his soul.
“Psalms were my therapy. Literally medicine for my fear, stress, anxiety, confusion and uncertainty. Psalm 23 is the highlight for me. Line by line I experienced it in different situations.”
Mojtaba’s experience shows how precious the scriptures are for persecuted Christians.
For a long time Mojtaba didn’t have a physical Bible in prison. But he was desperate to get hold of one somehow - God had the most unusual solution...
A kindly imam came to the prison every day, so Mojtaba boldly asked him for a Bible. Bringing in a whole Bible was too dangerous, and he laughed at the suggestion to begin with. But over time the imam smuggled in portions of the Bible in English. And with the help of a friend, Mojtaba translated them, and shared them with other prisoners.
Through these smuggled snippets of Scripture, more and more prisoners encountered Jesus and became Christians.
“I never prayed for God to release me from prison,” Mojtaba says. “It doesn’t matter what situation I’m in, I can work in God’s kingdom wherever God places me. It doesn’t matter if it is in prison or out of prison. Because persecution will take the gospel to the places where nothing else can.”
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