As friends gathered at one of Communitas’s church plants recently, Ashish and Dinara (names changed for security reasons) each shared a special testimony.
Ashish talked about Matthew 11:28-29, and how he had experienced “rest for his soul.” Dinara shared from James 1:2 and the reality of finding joy in “various trials.” These young men have had so many trials we cannot imagine!
Ashish and Dinara fled Iran when the underground house church they had only visited twice was raided by the secret police. Their names were on a list that put them in serious danger so they paid smugglers a large sum of money and were hidden in the back of a truck. When they emerged several weeks later they found themselves in Denmark. A small but strong Christian church took them in, and they became ardent followers of Jesus.
After many months of legal wrangling, they were denied asylum in Denmark because of a technicality, but ended up in Scotland in the midst of the pandemic lockdown.
They began attending the livestream sessions of Upper Room Church. And once gatherings were allowed, they came in person to be part of the community.
One night, before leaving service, Ashish and Dinara gave their tithe “offering,” contained in an elegantly scripted envelope, to one of the pastoral leaders. This was now the sixth such envelope they had delivered and each of the six envelopes had contained £22 (about $30) each time. They said they had learned “the pleasure of giving to God.”
A few weeks later, the leader delivered a small piece of furniture to their tiny flat and realized it was completely bare! Nothing except a mattress on the floor, a rickety table, two chairs, and a few pots and pans adorned their apartment. We realized £22 a month must have been a near fortune for them. But six months in a row, with beaming faces, they had given and said, “It is our pleasure to give to God.”
From the example of Iranian refugees, there is much to learn about generosity, trusting God, and experiencing joy through trials.
Clearly, these past years have been trying times globally. But most of us have not endured living in fear of the secret police for our faith, getting uprooted from our homeland, living with next to nothing and in constant legal limbo… and still finding joy in the midst of it all.
When the Apostle Paul wrote, “God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor 9:7), he may well have been thinking of Ashish and Dinara.
Thank you for your prayer and generosity as we start and shape communities of faith on mission in the world. Upper Room church is one of over 125 churches and planting projects in the Communitas family.
Your partnership helps us reach and care for many who sometimes teach US how to live as Christ-followers. We are reminded that living in the Kingdom of God is not always easy. But it is always full of joy as we trust in a Father whose pleasure it is to provide for us!