This account from David Yeghnazar, Elam’s Executive Director, helps show that reaching the unreachable begins with training the right leaders.
I was about to walk into the room. How bad would it be?
I was in a country near Iran, and Reza, the smiling pastor, had told me about a ‘hostel’ where Iranian refugees live. It was an old building that looked like it hadn’t seen a repairman since it was built in the 1920’s. I was introduced to Amir, one of his church members who lived there. Amir, about 27, had groomed himself as well as he could in his simple clothing.
Reza and Amir were going to show me around the hostel. I didn’t know much, but I knew it would not be pleasant. Amir shared a room with nine other Iranian men who had similarly tough backgrounds – drugs, broken lives, probably crime.
We entered Amir’s room. It was worse than I imagined. The awful smell hit me immediately. I coughed, and then wished I hadn’t. I noticed there were only three bunk beds. “I thought there were 10 of you?” I inquired. “Four of us sleep on the floor,” Amir explained as he pointed to four cheap, thin mattresses up against a wall. I immediately tried to work out if those four mattresses would fit on the floor space. Definitely tight.
Amir did not want to show me the restrooms and shower. “We are allowed to use it only once a week,” he said, a little embarrassed. I would rather sleep on a street, I thought to myself. We stood quietly for a moment.
Then came the hope. Then came the Gospel.
“Amir came to know the Lord seven months ago,” Reza began to explain in his gentle tone. “One of the Elam graduates witnessed to him and gave him a New Testament. He came to our church, and gave his life to Christ. He’s been through our discipleship, and he is one of our best evangelists now. He has led seven others who live in this hostel to Christ. He is full of the joy of the Lord. I love him so much.”
Amir looked humbly at the floor as Reza praised him. There was not a hint of pride. He was a broken young man who had found a wonderful savior – all he was doing was sharing about his Jesus. He shrugged his shoulders, as if to say, “What else would I do?”
Wow. Here’s a young man from the disadvantaged of a society closed to the Gospel. How did he become a Christian, let alone a powerful evangelist?
The answer is simple. If you train the right people, the unreachable become reachable.
This is the great joy of the training Elam Ministries is involved with – finding Iranians who are called to serve God and equipping them to proclaim the Gospel – in the places others don’t even know exist, like Amir’s hostel.