I came to the United States as a refugee almost three years ago. However, getting to this land was not easy at all. I spent three years in Turkey. I was waiting for an age-long process to be approved by the United Nations and other American humanitarian agencies in order to enter America. Coming to this land was not a goal for me, but I left my country because of the persecution of Christian believers.
I had been serving as a worship leader in my church, which was closed by my country’s security forces after years of persecution and intimidation. We tried to resist and keep the church open to people but the government wanted something else. Even after the Islamic government closed the church, I continued to receive threats and intimidations from the so-called Islamic Intelligence Service.
Finally, I decided to flee from all of the distress and seek asylum in Turkey. In the beginning, it was really hard for me to adjust to a new environment, but God didn’t leave me alone. He planned for me to serve my people in a neighboring country with many cultural and linguistic similarities as my own.
The waves of persecution have pushed many Christians out of their own land to neighboring countries, but this situation has provided a great opportunity for the churches to serve both Christian and Muslim refugees in Turkey, Georgia, and Armenia. I was one of the lucky servants who was given the opportunity to serve refugees.
During those three years, many people were added to the church, and still many other churches were established in other cities. In fact, there are many thousands of refugees in these countries, the majority of them Christian. They are stuck in these other countries in a suspended situation. They cannot go back home and they cannot move forward to another land for a better situation. Their only option is to stay where they are and wait until a country accepts them as refugees.
an opportunity for the church
While they remain in this distressing situation, churches can play a vital role in offering spiritual support and bringing hope to many desperate lives. However, there are not many healthy churches in these cities of refuge that can feed people with healthy spiritual food. This is why the Persian Leadership Development – a branch of Global Theological Initiatives at Southeastern – has made it our goal to train leaders for the global church. Currently, I am working for this initiative and my aim is to specifically teach believers and train leaders for the Persian churches all around the world.
In my country, the Islamic government has closed all of the churches and only underground churches remain. They are indeed experiencing a tough time of persecution; however, the more persecution there is, the more the church grows. There has been a massive response to the message of the Bible in my country in recent years, and every day many people come to Christ. However, they need leaders and pastors to help them to grow and become true disciples.
This ancient land consists of different people and language groups with their own customs and many unique cultural aspects. My country has 95 people groups and almost 89% of the 82 million population is unreached. Nevertheless, it has one of the fastest-growing evangelical churches in the world. The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.
For me, the refugee status is over now, since I have found my community here at Southeastern. After two years of living in this huge country, I can say I have relatively adjusted to the lifestyle, though the first year was indeed very difficult. I praise God that I am here and able to be trained and equipped for the bright future of my homeland and anticipate the day when many people can get together and worship Jesus.
Proceeds from our upcoming Southeastern 5K will benefit the Persian Leadership Development, along with the other Global Theological Initiatives at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. To register, click here.
Daniel K. was born and raised in a Christian family in a country where the majority population is Muslim. He was forced to leave due to extreme persecution and sought asylum in Turkey before coming to America. He now works at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary as the Administrative Assistant for one of the Global Theological Initiatives. He enjoys producing worship songs and resources for the underground church in his home country.
Feature photo courtesy of IMB.