There’s more than one reason to call the gospel “the good news.” The most important, of course, is that the truth of salvation through Christ is the very best good news—ever. But another is that it sits in contrast to all the “bad news” that happens daily. This world is fallen and broken, and produces much badness. But God has sent His son so that each day we can experience the good news of His presence and His purposes in addition to the eternal hope we have in Him.
In 1979, when the Shah was ousted from power in Iran, there were an estimated 500 believers in the country. This was despite the efforts of various groups over generations to plant the good news. Christar worker Ralph* had gone from village to village in one region of the country, but at the time Christian workers were expelled, there seemed to be no fruit. There was so much despair at that time, so much bad news.
But God has proven that once His good news has been planted, the harvest will come. Among Iranians today, the gospel is taking root and is indeed growing, spreading and bringing life to many. According to Mark Howard with Elam Ministries:
From the late 1970s until now, Iranians have become the Muslim people most open to the gospel in the Middle East. … More Iranians have become Christians in the last 20 years than in the previous 13 centuries put together since Islam came to Iran. … Today there are hundreds of thousands—some say more than 1 million.
And what of Ralph’s efforts over four decades ago? Well, another Christar worker, Loius, published a book that was widely appreciated by Iranians around the world. One of them, a man from Canada, reached out to the author to discuss the book. After the conversation he asked Louis, “Have you received an email from Mr. Sanna in Iran? That’s my father.”
The author had—and the man who had contacted him had spoken remarkably freely about Christ considering that he lived in a country known for severely persecuting believers. Louis asked the man who’d called him how his father could be so open about his faith in his (un-encrypted) email. The man explained that in that region of the country believers are so plentiful that the government doesn’t try to control them. They can speak freely and openly about their faith.
Here is the beauty of the story: Apparently the villages in the region had first heard the good news from a man named Ralph who had traveled about, many years before, teaching about Jesus!
Yes, in 1979 Ralph and his co-workers had to leave Iran due to the revolution. But God continued to water and tend the seedlings. His love, indeed, never fails. The seed that was sown and watered bore fruit as men and women put their faith in Jesus!
And that, my friend, is very, very good news!
Enjoying the Treasure,
Dr. Steve Coffey, Director of Christar U.S., began work with Christar in 1989. He and his wife, Beth, initially served among North African immigrants in France. In 2001, they returned to the U.S. for Steve to lead the Christar Church Planting Division. In 2005 he became Director of Christar. Before serving with Christar, the Coffeys worked for a year in a humanitarian project in the Red Sea hills of Sudan among the Beja people. Dr. Coffey’s education includes an undergraduate degree in history education from Liberty University, a Master of Divinity from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Strategic Leadership from Regent University. The Coffeys have three children and four grandchildren.