In early February, our team had the privilege of worshipping the Lord alongside Iranian refugees at a Help The Persecuted Spiritual Retreat. How it blessed our souls! Many of them had been tortured, imprisoned, and threatened because of their faith. As they sang “Amazing Grace” in Farsi, we were completely undone.

Many Iranian refugees must worship in secret even when they move to another country because they remain in hiding from their own families or hostile Iranian government officials. Our Help The Persecuted Spiritual Retreats are a time when they can live out their faith with other believers in ways that wouldn’t be possible otherwise—singing aloud with their whole hearts, openly praying, and sharing their testimonies of God’s unending mercies.

Josh Youssef, HTP’s CEO, got to meet two sisters, pictured above, at the event. The one on the right (in the jean jacket), shared her story. She was trembling as a team member Samar handed her the microphone, but she spoke with deep joy as she said, “Today, I want to tell you, God is alive!” The room began to applaud, encouraging her on.

She shared how her father drank heavily growing up and, when he was drunk, abused her. Because of his influence, she lost interest in God as a young adult. Years later, someone came up to her and said, “Do you believe in Jesus?” She had a negative reaction at first, but she decided to go ahead and read the Bible the man had given her. Soon, she was drawn to Jesus and wanted to go to church, but a Christian commandment made everything seem impossible: “Love your enemies.” She didn’t know how she could ever love her father.

And yet the Bible continued to stir her heart, and she longed for the peace it promised. One night, she cried out to the Lord, “Help me! Help me forgive my father and change my heart and my soul!” The Lord met her! She gave her life over to Christ. She finally was able to forgive her father…and began to share the good news of Jesus.

Soon, she was arrested and put in an Iranian prison for her evangelistic efforts. When she was released, she fled to Turkey. Life is hard for her because she feels lonely and longs for her home country. But the conviction in her voice did not waver even as tears streamed down her cheeks: “God has never left me alone, and he has never left you either,” she said.

In moments like that, we are in awe that we serve a God who can care for each one of his children so deeply, so tenderly, regardless of whether they are in Iran, as these sisters once were, or in suburban America. His amazing grace is a universal language…and it covers the entire Earth!

An opportunity: We have two HTP Spiritual Retreats on the horizon—one in Lebanon for women and one in Iraq for families. We invite you to invest in our field ministers planning these events and for the persecuted believers who will attend by praying for these events and considering a gift to help fund a woman or family to come!