Many moments in my life feel like the start of a joke. So is the case with how I wanted to start this story:
“So. . . a Canadian, an Iranian, and a Jewish Armenian are sitting on a bench. . .”
While this would be a wonderfully comedic way to begin this story, there are a couple of things of importance for understanding the craziness all this, first. So, I’m going to explain those things, and we’ll come back to the bench momentary.
I’ve already introduced you to my friend Hamid. I had a bit of an adventure with him and his cousin last month. When I first met Hamid, I had only been in the country for a week and a half (and so, didn’t understand the local language at all). He said he was so excited to meet another Canadian. Through the few words I knew, a few photographs, and a bunch of hand motions, he explained to me that he had another friend from his home country who has been living in Canada for the last 25 years, and that he himself wanted to go to Canada to live and work there in the next few years. He showed me a picture of his friend, and tried to explain something about his friend’s wife, but I didn’t understand it at the time on account of my lack of language.
>> Fast forward 5 months >>
Hamid comes to me one day and tells me that his Canadian-Irani friend he had mentioned months ago is coming to our city. Because my understanding of the language was at a much higher level at this point than 5 months ago, he further explains that this friend’s wife, who he married just this past year, is apparently a Jewish Armenian who has spent time living in Russia and Germany but has been living in Iran the last several years. They’ve been trying ever since the wedding to be able to get her to be able to move to Canada so they could be together. However, up until this point there’s been not a lot happening, except for waiting on paperwork. Apparently, this was not without reason: it’s not uncommon for people under the same circumstances as her to have to wait 2-3 years to have their permission granted to immigrate.
One year down, as many as two years to go.
A few days later this friend of Hamid’s, Parham, and his wife, Arah, came and visited the city where I’m living, I had a chance to meet them and chat with them a little bit. I was busy with other projects when they were visiting and wanted to get to chat with them more, but unfortunately didn’t get that opportunity, which I felt really bad about. Parham ended up heading back to Canada without me being able to talk to him more than 10 minutes.
A few days after Parham went home, I went to the school’s dorms to deal with a few things there, and noticed Arah was hanging out with a few of the girls from the Bible school. “Hey! You’re still here! I thought you were going home.”
Arah doesn’t speak the best English yet, so she stumbled through a few sentences: “No… I stay… here… for … little time. I… wait… in… city… for VISA.”
Ah! Ok. So she’s going to be hanging around for a while waiting for everything to go through properly. Cool!
A Couple Weeks later, we were having a church meeting, and Hamid and Arah were sitting on one of the benches in the meeting hall of our building. There was space next to where they were, so I came and sat beside Hamid. (This is where that, “a Canadian, an Iranian, and a Jewish Armenian are sitting on a bench…” crack comes in 😛 )
While preaching was happening, I felt my phone buzz in my pocket. I took it out and noticed I had got a message from Hamid:
“Hey, if you have time after the service, would we be able to pray with Arah?“
(Side note: yeah, we were texting in church. Sorry… we’re not very good Christians 😉 )
I look over, and give Hamid a head-nod, “Yeah, we can do that.”
The service comes to an end, and everyone starts hanging out and drinking tea and eating cake (we have an epic church group 🙂 ). I come over to where Hamid and Arah are, and we chat a bit. Arah wanted prayer for the immigration paperwork, that it would all go through especially quickly.
“Ok, yeah!” I said, “We can pray for that!”
So we pray, asking God to work in the offices and everything else, that all that would go through exceptionally smoothly. We also just prayed blessing on Arah, that Holy Spirit would be speaking to her and blessing her.
As I was praying, I felt like Holy Spirit was saying that there was fear in Arah’s heart that He wanted to take away. So, I shared that with Hamid and he translated that into Farsi for Arah to be able to understand.
She nodded her head repeatedly, and explained back to Hamid why there was fear was there. Apparently, several years ago, she was alone at home when a gas pipe broke open in the back of her house. She was completely unaware of it. The gas built up and built up, and eventually ignited, blowing up her house with her inside. She barely pulled through, receiving several critical injuries and 3rd degree burns on roughly 60-70% of her body. She lived through it, though, and has been able to mostly recover from the injuries and damage, though there’s still burn scaring over much of her body, including her face.
She explained that the memories from the explosion as well as recovery is something that gives her a lot of fear on a regular basis—a fear she agreed was something that Jesus would want to take away.
As Hamid was translating this all back to me, I had this thought come into my mind that I couldn’t shake. It was this picture of a line along the spine, like a line of pain. After Hamid finished telling the story, I asked him to translate for me, “Arah, do you have some kind of pain, like a line, down your back?”
She nods her head, “Yeah, it’s in constant pain. It’s actually something that’s been a chronic pain since the explosion.”
“Wow! Ok, can we pray for that too?”
“Yeah, of course.”
So, Hamid and I prayed for her back, then asked her how she felt. She moved around a bit, and smiled. She moved around more and said, “Wow, Yeah! there’s no pain anymore.”
Hamid and I replied, “Wow awesome! Thanks Jesus!”
Right after that happened, in the same way that I had seen the line of pain down the back before, I had right shoulder highlighted in my mind.
At first, I kinda brushed it off, “Nah, Her back just got healed, so if she has something else hurting in her body, she would mention it.”
I thought about it a bit more, and decided that I’d ask anyway, “Hey, does she have something going on in her shoulder as well?”
Now, Hamid looked at me, and his jaw dropped, “Josh!”
He translates into Farsi and replies, “Yeah, she does. A lot. It’s something she told me about a while ago.”
“Huh, ok… well, let’s deal with it!”
So, we prayed together a couple times again, and she said that all the pain left! Awesome!
We were about to continue with the day, when I have something else highlighted in my spirit: something on the upper leg, kinda leading into the hip, again on the right side.
I think to myself, “… Back healed, and shoulder healed… surely she would mention if there was something else of concern… surely…” Thought about it more, “Eh, Fine, let’s ask!”
“Hey, Hamid, does Arah have something going on in her leg, kinda on the right side near her hip?”
Again, Hamid looks at me, smiles, and says, “JOSH!!”
Again, translation happens in Farsi, Arah nods her head, and Hamid says back to me, “Yeah! She has a lot of pain there.” He goes on to explain that each of the things so far – her back, her shoulder, and now her leg – have been chronic pains she has had since the explosion. The damage was so extensive in her leg that they had to do various surgeries on her leg, replacing bone, and rebuilding parts of her leg with plastic implants (the translation was a bit tricky, but that’s what I got out of it). All that plastic was still there.
“Josh, Arah is a good friend of mine. I knew about all this stuff! You didn’t! This is amazing!” Hamid added.
It really was amazing. I honestly had no idea about those things, but I knew the Father was putting them on my heart for her, so I stepped out in obedience.
We prayed for her leg, and she said that all the pain left. We also ended up praying for a few other things for her that she was having trouble with, emotionally, spiritually, and such, and then hung out for a bit before we went our separate ways.
THE NEXT DAY
I thought that was pretty epic in general. (Like, freaking epic. Jesus just showed His Lordship over chronic pain and physical injuries from explosions in a crazy, crazy way, and showed that he wants to use us, His kids, to make it happen.) I was so pumped.
However, I was just as excited, or maybe even more excited when I got this text from Hamid less than 24 hours later:
Just wanted to let you know that we got a message from the UN today. Arah’s paperwork has all gone through. I’m going with her right now to get her VISA. We just need to get her the passport that’s waiting for her, a plane ticket, and she’ll be off to Canada by the end of next week.
Thanks again for praying!
I messaged Hamid back. “Wait, the paperwork that was supposed to take another 1-2 years has all gone through?!”
“Yup! She’s leaving for Canada next week. She’s so joyful! She was talking to Parham on Skype last night, crying as she told him about all that Jesus did for her. He was amazed.” (Her husband, being a Muslim, hasn’t experienced most of this stuff, or had any idea what walking in relationship with Jesus can look like; he’s getting a taste of it now, though Hamid and I continue to pray that he’ll experience the fullness of it, and give his life to Jesus. 🙂 )
Jesus wants to touch people, and He wants to use us to do it. He said that we would do greater things than He did (John 14). Sometimes, I’m surprised by what that looks like. But I don’t need to be; there’s SO MUCH more for each one of us. I want to walk in it, and I want you to walk in it too.
So, ask for Holy Spirit to speak to you, listen, be bold, and take risks!!
P.S. Shout out to my friends at the Street Invaders program that started yesterday. I wouldn’t be where I am now if not for the way Jesus has worked in me through that program. Hundreds of people are going to be encountering Jesus over the next 3 weeks, and giving their lives to Him, so pray for the students and leaders involved in the program. Believe me, they need it!
And pray for Parham and Arah as they enter into this new chapter of their lives, that Jesus would be working in them, establishing His Kingdom in their hearts.
Also, pray for more fruit here. That Jesus would continue to touch and encounter those we are able to be in contact with in this city and country.
Thanks for reading! You’re awesome!
Jesus is Lord 😀