Thursday, October 15, 2009

A photo of our first meeting with Afshin and Meredith

Some may remember that when BJ was eight, Afshin came to Indiana to speak at our youth ski retreat. He spoke of growing up Muslim and being of Iranian descent. He spent around four years of his early life, living in Iran. During a dark period of Iran's history, his family escaped back to the USA.

During this period, hatred for the people of Iran grew among those in the US. As a result, his early school years were difficult. Few people cared about him, and he was often ostracized for being from that place.

A woman who was teaching him to speak English, also happened to be a believer. At some point in their working together, she gave him a Bible. She was the only person in his world who was kind to him, outside of his family. He knew this book would be trouble, so he hid it deep in his closet.

Years passed.

When he was in high school, he dug it out. He had questions about this Jesus, so he began to read.

As a result of this Bible and those the Lord strategically placed in his life during this period, Afshin came to Christ. For some time, he kept it hidden from his family.

An uncomfortable place grew within him. He knew he had to tell his family. When he finally did, his father disowned him.

He clung to the passage from Matthew 10: "I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother... a man's enemies will be the members of his own household... anyone who does not take his cross and follow me, is not worthy of me."

Years later, as an aspiring preacher, he was on staff as an intern at one of the largest churches in Dallas, Texas.

He was interviewed for that position, by the man who would one day, later in life, become his father-in-law.

His very first speaking engagement outside of his own church, was at our ski retreat.

When he shared his testimony, the Lord got a hold of my son's attention. He came home expressing his understanding of the gospel for the first time, and proclaiming that he had become a believer!

Around twelve years later, the Lord would stir my heart and urge me to get in touch with Afshin. I had thought about it in prior years, but had not considered it much beyond the moment.

This time, I felt I would be in disobedience to my Savior, if I did not.

I quickly found a way to contact him, and fired off a message. To my complete surprise, he almost immediately responded.

The humility and love in his response, reduced me to tears (shocking, I know).

I quickly shared it with Deanna and we wept together.

It seems his wife had purchased our book and come home to share the passage with him about the Lord's impact on BJ, through Afshin's obedience. They knelt on the floor together and gave thanks.

Afshin had been in a place of question and frustration, as he pondered whether or not his ministry was actually having an impact for God's glory. As an itinerant preacher, he was never around to see life changes take place in the lives of those the Lord had saved through his preaching.

A few months later, our first meeting occurred. I wrote of this previously (June 11, 2009). The above photo was taken that evening.

Fast forward to this past June. We were in Dallas to train our summer mission teams. We once again were in touch with Afshin and Meredith, and set a time to have dinner. It was Father's Day weekend. They arrived to pick us up, and we headed out.

We spoke of having Mexican food, and proceeded to find a specific restaurant.

We were en route, when Afshin suddenly spoke of another place. As he was telling us about this restaurant, his demeanor filled with surprise. I couldn't imagine what he was going to say.

He began to tell us about this other eatery, and as the name of the restaurant was about to leave his lips, he realized a providence of the Lord.

The name of this restaurant was... "BJ's!"

He exclaimed, "I don't know why I didn't think of this before!"

We went in and had an amazing meal and evening with our new friends. As we prepared to leave, our server informed us that as a Father's Day gift, each man got to take his dinner glass (with "BJ's" emblazoned on it) with him.

We were so blessed. What an incredible evening. What an incredible mercy of God!

Deanna and I were about to leave the country for the summer, so Afshin and Meredith kept our glass for us until our return.

We would later collect that glass and more time with these precious people... our good friends, Meredith and Afshin!!!

We praise God for them! He is doing amazing work in and through their lives and ministry. We are blessed to call them friends.

Afshin is coming to speak (3x) at our upcoming missions conference. We are looking forward to having more time with him!

Praise God!!!



At 12:08 PM, Blogger gilbert said...

Thanks for this post - it's soo encouraging. How wonderful are the Lord's ways in ordering our steps - often we don't think anything's happening, and then the Lord let's us have a glimpse of what really is happening - praise Him.


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