No Safe Place

HEARTS RIPE FOR HARVEST:  WOMEN AT RISK

Somewhere Safe

Throughout the US, in service stations, restaurants and other public places you’ll see signs identifying a location as a Safe Place.  Employees of these locations have been trained to help any youth who asks for it.  No shame is attached to the need for assistance.  Runaways, kidnap, victims and abused kids can step forward to be rescued from their dangerous situations.

While Safe Place is a national program for youth, regional programs throughout the US offer similar help for abused women of all ages.  In many women’s restrooms a discreet sign invites abused women to make their situation known by a phone call or a word to an employee.  If you google “wife abuse”, pages and pages of sites offer their assistance.

Whenever a vulnerable person steps forward, they are applauded for their bravery and within in a very short time they are in a shelter specially designed to assist in the beginning of their healing process.  A warm bed, a square meal, decent clothing, comforting words, de-tox, prenatal care, child care – whatever is needed to break the cycle of abuse which held a victim captive will be provided.  More importantly, even if their abuser discovers where they are, the abuser will gain no access until the victim is equipped to deal with them.

The Abuse of the Vulnerable

Even in places like America, where the call for help is seen as a sign of bravery, stepping out of the shadows and into the arms of caring people can be hard.  Trust is a difficult thing to learn, once it has been stolen.

In The Middle East and Central Asia, with its tradition of subjugation, should a woman or a child cry out for help, their reward is shame.  The beating a man gives his wife is a private thing, unless the husband is bragging about it at the local teahouse.  A woman keeps these things to herself. Enduring the inevitable beating is a sign of strength.

Among the frivolity of a wedding celebration the evidence of male dominance is clear.  In the picture above, the groom greets his bride in the traditional way, by stepping on her shoe.  This is emblematic of a woman’s entire life.  Her role is to submit and to do so with grace and endurance.  Yes, it’s just a small ritual, but would you allow it on your wedding day?

During the celebration it’s not unusual for the men to give advice to the groom concerning the “test beating.”  This is a wedding night ritual endured by many new wives until today.  Umida, the host of our Uzbek Women’s Program, can tell you how frequently this “test beating” occurs.  By administering the ritual of a wedding night beating, a husband can discover the demeanor of his wife.  If she doesn’t submit gracefully, she can be returned to her family.  If she does submit, you’ve gotten a good one and your family will honor her the next morning in the traditional “welcoming of the bride” ceremony.

Should a wife run to her family or friends for help, she’d be shamed.  “What kind of weakling are you?  “What did you do to deserve the whipping?”  “At least you have a husband and a home.  Be grateful.”  “You must learn to submit so you can protect your children.”  For the honor of the family, the errant wife would be humbly returned to the abuser, but there is no guarantee she would be recieved .  In some cases the wife would be severely beaten to demonstrate her family’s shame at her behavior.

God’s Word, the Bible, has a different message for women – a message of equality, hope, and joy.  This is the message GHM delivers to The Middle East and Central Asia in programs for women like Shukar Aytaman ( I Am Thankful) and Sweet Conversations.  Our children’s programs are designed to deliver the message of worth at a young age.  Even our men’s programs underline the respect men should pay women as co-heirs of God’s promises.  Reaching women and saving them from abuse is one of our prime objectives.  Wouldn’t you like to join us in these efforts?

Help Reap the Harvest

Fulfilling the Great Commission in this generation.
Fulfilling the Great Commission in this generation.

You can partner with Global Heart Ministries to fulfill The Great Commission in this generation in countries and turn fathers into daddies. Together we can bring the light and the truth of Jesus Christ right into the living rooms of every deceived child, every oppressed woman, and every hurting home. This is our message. This is our call.

We invite you to join this vision as a volunteer, a prayer warrior, or a financial donor. Contact us today by phone or email. Let us know how you’d like to partner with us as we reach out to the Most Unreached Regions of the World.

Even to Smile is a Radical Thing

Smiling for the Joy of the Lord!

HEARTS RIPE FOR HARVEST: WOMEN DON’T SMILE IN MY COUNTRY

Ready! Set!  Action!

Umida and Feruza were dressed for the set. Lori had finished their hair and make-up.  The cameramen, techs, and producer were set-up to film around a water feature in a garden. Everything was ready to shoot the opening scene for the Shukar Aytayman (I Am Thankful) Uzbek Women’s Program.  The producer said, “Ladies, there’s no dialog in these scenes.  They’re just part of the titles we’ll have at the beginning of each show.  I want the viewers to be drawn into the program by your joy.  So big smiles, OK?”

It wasn’t OK.  Umida said, “Women don’t smile in my country.”  Can you imagine the implications of that?  How early in a girl’s life would you have to begin training her that smiling is unacceptable? Or perhaps she learns it by observing the women around her who never smile?

A Simple Smile

Look back over yesterday.  How many times did you smile?  Perhaps there was a smile on your face as you took your morning shower?  Certainly you smiled into the mirror as you gave yourself the final once over, to imagine how people would see you during the day?  Over breakfast did you share a smile with a child, a spouse, or a roommate?  Did you nod at your next door neighbor and grin as you backed out your car?  If you dropped your kids off at day care or a babysitter’s did you smile at the employees receiving your child?  Did you smile at the doorman or security guard or receptionist at your office?

Smiles greet, thank, and reassure those around us.  Smiles help us cope with the stresses of life. Smiles allow us to express pleasure and joy.  In our western culture, even in the dreariest of lives, a smile is a necessity for males and females alike.  In Uzbekistan, women don’t smile.  

Imagine a life without smiles.  In fact, give it a try.  See how long you can go without smiling, even to yourself – perhaps especially to yourself.

Back on the Set

For a moment, everything came to a halt.  Steve, our producer, had to think for a moment.  One of the primary things we require of ourselves, as we film our programs, is that they be culturally correct.  We want everything that is said and done, every prop and wardrobe choice, to be true to the lives of our audience.  Certainly through satellite broadcasting and the internet, our audience sees the smiles of women from Westernized cultures, but they do not share smiles among themselves.

A quick prayer went up, “Father, what would you have us do?”  And then suddenly he knew.  Steve said, “Well, we’re going to smile today.  Let’s show the Uzbek women what it means to have the joy of the Lord.”  The resulting footage is a message without words.  Umida and Feruza invite the women of their country into their joy before  a single syllable is spoken.

This is the purpose of GHM programming.  We want the people of The Middle East and Central Asia to know there is something to smile about.  We want them to have hope, in a place where it is unknown.  We want the joy of the Lord to invade their lives with profound change.

Help Reap the Harvest

Fulfilling the Great Commission in this generation.
Fulfilling the Great Commission in this generation.

You can partner with Global Heart Ministries to fulfill The Great Commission in this generation. Together we can bring the light and the truth of Jesus Christ right into the living rooms of every deceived child, every oppressed woman, and every hurting home. This is our message. This is our call.

We invite you to join this vision as a volunteer, a prayer warrior, or a financial donor. Contact us today by phone or email. Let us know how you’d like to partner with us as we reach out to the Most Unreached Regions of the World.

A Tradition of Subjugation

HEARTS RIPE FOR HARVEST: WOMEN IN THE MIDDLE EAST AND CENTRAL ASIA

Equality From the Beginning

Women in western countries can’t begin to appreciate the debt they owe Judeo-Christian values.  While there are always improvements to be made to the human condition, for males and females, in the earliest pages of the Bible, God established the equality of sexes.  In the very first chapter of Genesis God said He created male and female in His own image and charged them both to have dominion over all things on the earth.

Throughout time, mankind has deviated from honoring this divine assignment in many ways.  Often it has been the religious establishment discriminating against the daughters of Eve, but regardless of the acts of man, God has continued to honor women.  His regard for women is recorded in the Bible – throughout His relationship with His chosen people and the beginning of the Church Age.  This tradition of the equality of the sexes is the platform on which women in western cultures stand, even as they turn away from other traditions of the Bible.  

Marching in the Streets

Women in western countries march in the street for their rights and for the rights of women everywhere, but sometimes they seem unaware of the privileges they already enjoy.  They stand under clever signs created out of the bounty of their education with their hair blowing in the wind, each wearing whatever their personal taste dictates.  They drive themselves to the protest in cars they bought with loans in their own name.  If they are married, they chose their own husband or significant other.  If they are women of faith, they may practice their own religion rather than following what their father or husband believes, with little fear of retribution.  Women in The Middle East and Central Asia often dare not even dream of these freedoms.

While some of the critics of western policies point to generous laws in third world countries, which promise paid leave when a child is born or quote constitutions which specifically name women as equal under the law, many of these brave benefits and laws are merely window dressing for countries which still hide their women behind a veil or allow honor murders and genital mutilations.  The words of the laws and the constitutions in no way reduce the burden of subjugation most women in The Middle East and Central Asia suffer.

Stuck in History 

The subjugation of women in many The Middle East and Central Asia countries is so entwined in the male-dominated culture that it really doesn’t matter what UN Treaty a country votes to accept or what their constitution says.  The women there are second class citizens with no hope, no rights, and no privacy.  If a daughter is slain for the family’s honor, according to religious traditions the government recognizes, what mother considers maternity leave a fair recompense for her loss?

The Muslim faith, the foundation on which these cultures are built, has a tradition of Sharia Law – a law focused on absolute obedience to a strict code of conduct.  The literature of Islam assigns a second class role to women and tradition shoves these women even further into the background.  They are completely under the control of the men in their lives, and for most living out this tradition, it is not a benevolent stewardship.

Stuck in Tradition

For too many women in The Middle East and Central Asia, it really doesn’t matter what the laws say, because  these women will never hear a whisper of any political laws offering freedom.  They will only know the religious impediments imposed upon them.   From an early age, they are closeted with the other women in the household.  If they receive any education at all, it is the bare rudiments.  As soon as possible they are taught their chores and begin a slave-like existence.  Marriages can be arranged and performed long before puberty.  Even if the marriage is not consummated, they may go into the house of their husband to serve their mother-in-law, the same way they served at home, but with harsher taskmasters.

It is into this atmosphere satellite broadcasting has been introduced.  Families that once knew nothing about the world beyond their village suddenly have the opportunity to see beyond the borders of their country.  Much of the programming is in foreign languages the viewers don’t even understand.  They merely like the noise and pageantry playing in their living room.  If there are programs in their own language, chances are they are programs of religious and political indoctrination.  GHM can show you footage of small children marching in a circle, singing of the beauty of martyrdom to Allah.

Imagine the wonder of these women who tune into our programs, aired in Azerbaijani, Uzbek, and Turkmen.  Beautiful, well-groomed women with smiles on their faces, talk about a God who loves women as much as He does men, and who not only offers the hope of heaven, but the assurance of it – without the need to suffer a martyr’s death and in dying take innocent lives.  How can an oppressed woman ignore this evidence of a life beyond her own?  The smiles alone are a testimony of the fact that there is a life beyond what these oppressed viewers can even imagine.

Help Reap the Harvest

Fulfilling the Great Commission in this generation.
Fulfilling the Great Commission in this generation.

You can partner with Global Heart Ministries to fulfill The Great Commission in this generation in The Middle East and Central Asia. Together we can bring the light and the truth of Jesus Christ right into the living rooms of every deceived child, every oppressed woman, and every hurting home. This is our message. This is our call.

We invite you to join this vision as a volunteer, a prayer warrior, or a financial donor. Contact us today by phone or email. Let us know how you’d like to partner with us as we reach out to the Most Unreached Regions of the World.

No Sugar, No Spice

Life is harsh for women in The Middle East and Central Asia

HEARTS RIPE FOR HARVEST: NOT ENOUGH DADDIES

God’s Plan for Little Girls

The Bible is clear.  All children are a gift of God, even daughters, because His prime directive to Adam and Eve was to be fruitful and multiply (Genesis 1:28).  Without females, there is no multiplication.  In God’s plan, a son is to leave his father and his mother to cleave to his wife and become one with her (Genesis 2:24).  A wife is to be a helpmeet, not mere chattel (Genesis 2:18).  Proverbs 31 heralds the value of a good wife which is beyond rubies.  This is God’s stance on women.  The New Testament takes it even further, admonishing husbands to love their wives, to be willing to lay down their lives for them (Ephesians 5:25).

That’s a far cry from today’s Western culture where women fight for equality and rights, but its even further from the  position of women in our target countries.  In The Middle East and Central Asia, a daughter is a disappointment, and men brag about beating their wives.  Little chance there will be a movement to celebrate fathers in these countries.  The fathers celebrate themselves.

Celebrating Father’s Day

Did you know there was no official recognition of Father’s Day in the US until 1972?  Mother’s Day was envisioned in 1908 and was made a national holiday in 1914.  In 1909 a woman raised by a widower thought fathers also needed recognition.  Imagine the love she must have experienced to feel that way!

It took her a year to convince the people of her state to celebrate Dads, but the idea ran into opposition elsewhere.  In part, the idea had a slow start because it was not embraced by retailers, and the fathers themselves had a bit of resistance.  They thought it might “domesticate manliness,” according to a quote cited by the History Channel.  Many people thought the idea of days to celebrate Mom and Dad separately were sexist and there should be a single Parent Day.   Even today, 17 countries around the world have a celebration of mothers, while only 10 recognize fathers.

Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice

Father’s Day was initiated by the love of a daughter and persisted until it was made a national holiday because of daddies – not because of the ability of a man to sire a child.  Daddies love their children, the boys and the girls.  They have an affection for them, demonstrated by nurturing and sacrifices.  A daddy does not see a daughter as an expensive burden and a potential for shame.  A daddy does not want to hide his daughter away, but revels in her uniqueness, beauty, and strength.  He wants her to be educated and to enjoy success – and when his daughter has a daughter, the joy is multiplied.

The world needs more daddies, especially the part of the world GHM ministers to.  The role of women in these countries is defined by their subservience.  The fathers dictate everything, from the clothes they wear, to the religion they will practice, even to the man they will marry.  When a woman marries, she goes into the home of her husband where the mother-in-law is a virtual slave driver.  A woman’s only hope is to have a son that will one day bring a wife to serve her.

The world needs more daddies!

This is not God’s plan.  He sent Jesus Christ to offer hope to women.  The idea that a man should love his wife was a radical one in the First Century.  The fact that Jesus had women among His followers was a scandal.  The early church grew because of women like Lydia in Acts.

 Our most popular programs are our women’s programs, because they show women the love God has for them as women.  And remarkably, these shows are gaining popularity with men because all of us are created with the desire to love and honor one another.  It is the Enemy who deceives us into hate and subjugation.

In fact, one of the names of God is “Abba.”  Many translations use the formal form of “Father” in the verses where Abba used, but that does not capture the original meaning, which is more in line with “daddy.”  In Mark 14:36, Jesus asks Abba if the cup of death could be taken away, in the same tone a child might ask to be spared a difficult task. How wonderful to know, as adopted sons and daughters, we too can turn to our heavenly daddy for comfort and strength when our tasks seem too big.

The world does need more daddies.  On Sunday, as you celebrate your father, think of the men and the women in The Middle East and Central Asia.  Pray they would come to know our Father Creator through His Son, Jesus Christ.  Perhaps our Father is calling on you to partner with us in this crusade to teach the fathers of The Middle East and Central Asia to become daddies.

Help Reap the Harvest

Fulfilling the Great Commission in this generation.
Fulfilling the Great Commission in this generation.

You can partner with Global Heart Ministries to fulfill The Great Commission in this generation in countries and turn fathers into daddies. Together we can bring the light and the truth of Jesus Christ right into the living rooms of every deceived child, every oppressed woman, and every hurting home. This is our message. This is our call.

We invite you to join this vision as a volunteer, a prayer warrior, or a financial donor. Contact us today by phone or email. Let us know how you’d like to partner with us as we reach out to the Most Unreached Regions of the World.

Media Makes a Difference for Volunteer

Alma maintains the GHM database.

HEARTS AFLAME:  ALMA DIXON KNOWS DATA MATTERS

Alma Dixon is a volunteer we can’t live without.  Our database of donors, volunteers and partners is critical to our operation and she’s the one who keeps it percolating along.  Because of her, our supporters get their their newsletters, e-news and records of their donations.  When we pick up the phone and call someone, the number is available because Alma keeps the database humming.  It’s a huge job and its one she volunteers for.

When we asked how she became involved with GHM, her answer was a smile and one name: Steve Sharp.  Steve was worship minister at Alma’s church when he started his ministry in Central Asia.  When he asked her to help, she “really had no choice – he never takes no as an answer.”

Sermon Tapes Put Jesus in the Driver’s Seat

Alma knows the effectiveness of media when it comes to the Gospel.  She had been brought up in a Christian home, but admits “Jesus was a passenger in [my] life.”  After she was married her brother sent her some sermon tapes which caused her to change drivers.  “The Lord began to soften my heart, I started reading the Bible, attending church and eventually I relinquished the driving to Him.”

That’s the kind of life-changing message GHM brings to The Middle East and Central Asia.  Religious leaders there promote a monotheistic belief system, but that system does not satisfy the hearts of the men, women and children of the region.  Alma reminds us, ” The people in that part of the world are eager for spiritual answers and they are responding to the Gospel message.”

Zafar, Umida and Feruza, Musician, Host and Co-host of Shukur Aytaman, Our Uzbek Women’s program

Through satellite broadcasting, GHM delivers the Gospel into the living rooms of countries like Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Turkey, Iran and Kazakhstan.  When a viewer is touched by the message of our programming, there are hundreds of home pastors, trained and spiritually mentored by GHM, who can bring the viewers into their hidden churches.  As Alma pointed out, these home churches are not filled only by our viewers, but many in those areas are encountering Jesus in visions and dreams.  Even as many here in the Western World are turning their backs on Christianity, the Lord is moving in The Middle East and Central Asia.

“Think eternally, life passes quickly,” is the message Alma wants to pass on to others.  She knows her work for GHM is for the Lord and she’s happy to be a part of reaching others so far away with the Gospel.  Wouldn’t you like to join Alma and many others in supporting GHM with your time, talents and money?

Fulfilling the Great Commission in this generation.

Set Your Heart Aflame

Like Alma, you can partner with Global Heart Ministries to Fulfill The Great Commission in this generation. Together we can bring the light and the truth of Jesus Christ right into the living rooms of every deceived child, every oppressed woman, and every hurting home. This is our message. This is our call.

We invite you to join this vision as a volunteer, a prayer warrior, or a financial donor.  Contact us today by phone or email.  Let us know how you’d like to partner with us as we reach out to the Most Unreached Regions of the World.

 

God Answers Prayers in Big Ways and Small

A younger Steve Sharp being filmed for Turkmen TV

HEARTS RIPE FOR HARVEST: CENTRAL ASIA ON THE WORLD STAGE

What-i-stan?

Years ago when God first gave Steve Sharp a burden for Central Asia, most people wouldn’t have been able to name five of the countries in the region, much less find them on a map.  Steve’s first call was to create praise and worship music in the style and languages of the region.  How much the mission has grown since then!  The music and culture of The Middle East and Central Asia are still at the center of what we do, but our programs, broadcast via satellite reach many more millions of people than Steve ever dreamed of touching with a worship CD for Turkmens.

In those early years of the ministry, Steve would explain over and over that Central Asia was the part of the world between Europe and China, where the names of the countries ended in ‘stan’.  “Like Pakistan,” was a frequent question in reply to his explanation.  Steve would direct their focus further north and begin to share the needs of the Most Unreached Region of the World.  As our mission spreads across The Middle East, we have found more ministry partners in countries like Iran and Afghanistan, but Central Asia continues to be almost invisible to mainstream mission organizations.

Central Asia Coming Out of the Shadows

Though Central Asia has been a dead-zone for Christian ministry, for so many years, there have been many people lifting the area up in prayer – those of us currently ministering to the area, our supporters and the Believers in Central Asia.  Among our prayers, have been the plea that God would pave the way and open doors for the Gospel in this part of the world.

We are beginning to see God easing open those doors in ways we never imagined.  New regimes are coming to power in some of the countries.  This does not mean these nations are suddenly open for us to freely minister in them.  That day is still far away, but as their leaders become more and more open to ideas and assistance from the West, it gradually opens small spaces within which we can operate.  We could tell you of small, tiny steps which simplified operations for us that were once all but impossible –  even though to accomplish them in other countries would not require so much as a second thought.  However, to mention these improvements would be to end them.

These changes are small, incremental improvements rarely noticed by the outside world, but invaluable to us.  There are even more exciting events on the world scene.  For instance, in recent weeks King Salman of Saudi Arabia hosted the Riyadh Summit, a series of three summits attended by the American president and leaders from all over The Middle East and Central Asia.  The theme of the summit was, “Together We Prevail.”  For the first time, a group of Arab countries acknowledged radical Islamic terror groups like ISIS, Boko Haram, Hamas and al-Queda were not just an enemy of the West, but were also a threat to the entire Arab world.  This was a ground-breaking event of global proportions.  This is real change.

Image of summit attendees from http://www.thesundaily.my

Among the 55 nations represented at the Saudi Arabian event were the large players like Egypt, Pakistan and Jordan, countries we are accustomed to seeing on the world stage, but it thrilled our hearts to see the nations below send their presidents and other high officials to such a pivotal event:

 

  • Azerbaijan
  • Kazakhstan
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Tajikistan
  • Turkey
  • Turkmenistan
  • Uzbekistan

These are the stepping stones God has paved into a path.  We can begin to walk the path as we reach out to the hearts and minds of the lost in this troubled part of the world.

Help Reap the Harvest

Fulfilling the Great Commission in this generation.
Fulfilling the Great Commission in this generation.

You can partner with Global Heart Ministries to fulfill The Great Commission in this generation. Together we can bring the light and the truth of Jesus Christ right into the living rooms of every deceived child, every oppressed woman, and every hurting home. This is our message. This is our call.

We invite you to join this vision as a volunteer, a prayer warrior, or a financial donor. Contact us today by phone or email. Let us know how you’d like to partner with us as we reach out to the Most Unreached Regions of the World.

 

Praying in the Name of Jesus

HEARTS RIPE FOR HARVEST: PRAY FOR GHM

GHM Target Countries

When we tell people GHM produces Christian TV programming for The Middle East and Central Asia, they usually want to know more.  Sometimes they have specific countries on their heart that they already pray for.  Others aren’t quite sure exactly what countries are in Central Asia.

GHM has produced original programming in Turkmen, Uzbeks, and Azerbaijanis, but that doesn’t begin to reflect the wide reach of our ministry.  Here are a few reasons why:

  • In these regions, political borders are not related to the use of of languages inside the countries.  So, for instance, while Azerbaijani is the official language of Azerbaijan, there are large populations of people in several surrounding countries, including Iran and Turkey, who use Azerbaijani as their primary tongue.
  • Many of the languages in the region developed out of the same branch of the Indo-European language family or out of the Turkic language family, meaning that many people can understand many of the languages they do not actually use themselves.
  • Because languages flow so freely between the various countries we minister to, many of our potential viewers speak more than one language.

Languages Add Spice to Life

While our office is staffed by people with names like Steve and Hannah Beth, we communicate daily with our program hosts, Umida, Abror, Feruza, Narmin, and Tarana–and that’s only the beginning.  We have others who regularly appear in our programs, like Aziz, Bahtiyor, and Zafar.  During our last filming we had Mexicans, Russians, Kuwaitis, and Americans as guests, along with many Uzbeks.  There’s rarely any way to guess how many languages might be spoken on any given day in our office, and it’s hard to know which ones we’ll be hearing.

We laugh as we listen to one another struggle with an unfamiliar name or word–and spelling is a whole different subject!  We’re not complaining though.  It makes what we do so much more interesting.  That’s why we’re inviting you to join us in a little language game.

While there is only one Savior, His Name comes in many forms, according to what language you speak.  We invite you to pray to Jesus Christ for the salvation of those watching our programs, using various translations of his name spoken by our viewers  (Translations courtesy of Google Translate):

  • Arabic:  Almasih Eissa
    المسيح عيسى
  • Azerbaijani: Müqəddəs İsa
  • Georgian: Ieso K’riste
    იესო ქრისტე
  • Kazak: Иса Мәсіх
  • Kyrgyz: Ыйса Машайак
  • Russian: Иисус Христос
  • Tajik: Isoi Maseh
    Исои Масеҳ
  • Turkish: Yüce isa
  • Turkmen: Isa Mesih
  • Uzbek: Iso Masih

Join Your Heart to Ours

Fulfilling the Great Commission in this generation.

Praying for us (in English or any other language) is just one of the ways you can partner with Global Heart Ministries to fulfill The Great Commission in this generation. Together we can bring the light and the truth of Jesus Christ right into the living rooms of every deceived child, every oppressed woman, and every hurting home. This is our message. This is our call.

We invite you to join this vision as a volunteer, a prayer warrior, or a financial donor.  Contact us today by phone or email.  Let us know how you’d like to partner with us as we reach out to the Most Unreached Regions of the World.

Bringing Truth to Easter

HEARTS RIPE FOR HARVEST: PEELING AWAY MYTHS

The Rites of Spring

A quick glance around the Internet will quickly inform you of the pagan history of Easter.  The Easter Bunny comes from some Nordic tale of an egg-laying hare.  From the beginning of time, in myriads of cultures, an egg is the sign of new life.  Many gods and goddesses of mythology have tales of rebirth among their legends.  Even the very name of the celebration is often linked back to the name of a goddess.  For these reasons and others, some Christians shy away from celebrating what they feel is a holiday tainted by other religions.

Easter in Persian Cultures

For Christians in Central Asia, Iran, and other Persian nations, Easter is a very special time.  Before they became Christians, most Persians, like Azerbaijanis and Uzbeks enjoyed a holiday called Novruz, which we discussed last month.  Many of it’s traditions relate to the coming of spring and the signs of new life in nature.  The history of the holiday has many links into a number of religious traditions, but it has come to be celebrated in our times for the pure fun of it.  To those brought up celebrating the signs of life of nature with Novruz, the hope of Christ has a very precious meaning.

As with much of the world, America’s commercialism is pervasive in GHM’s target countries.  Our TV hosts tell us that decorated eggs, chocolate bunnies, and stuffed chicks can be found in many of their stores.  Central Asians, Iranians, and others throughout the Middle East watch newscasts and movies where Americans are making a big ado about an Easter frock or the White House Easter Egg Roll.  They are able to enjoy the festivities without any understanding of what Easter is.  They see it as a sort of American Novruz.

However, once someone becomes a Christian, New Life means much more than fresh green leaves or the return of agriculture.  Narmin, host of Sweet Conversations, our Azerbaijani Women’s Program, loves to celebrate Novruz because of the memories of friends and family it offers, but Easter has become her favorite holiday because it assures her of the hope she has found in Jesus Christ.  Umida, host of Shukar Aytaman (I Am Thankful), our Uzbek Women’s Program, could not carry her Bible when she went to her home church in Uzbekistan, but now she proudly wears a cross around her neck since she has the freedom of America.  For these women and for Christians everywhere, it is the cross and the empty tomb which are the true symbols of Easter, not rabbits and eggs.   

No one loves hope more than those who have known hopelessness. Our viewers know what it is to live without hope.  Soviet occupation squelched all religious practice. When the Russians left, Islam flooded the religious vacuum, but it did not offer hope, only rigid rules encompassing every facet of life.  The Good News of Jesus Christ, offered in every program we produce, is a refreshing wind of hope, embraced by Believers–old and new–in our target countries.

Help Reap the Harvest

Fulfilling the Great Commission in this generation.
Fulfilling the Great Commission in this generation.

You can partner with Global Heart Ministries to fulfill The Great Commission in this generation. Together we can bring the light and the truth of Jesus Christ right into the living rooms of every deceived child, every oppressed woman, and every hurting home. This is our message. This is our call.

We invite you to join this vision as a volunteer, a prayer warrior, or a financial donor. Contact us today by phone or email. Let us know how you’d like to partner with us as we reach out to the Most Unreached Regions of the World.

Farsi, The Persian Heart Language

“Farsi” Written in Persian

HEARTS RIPE FOR HARVEST: MODERN LANGUAGE WITH ANCIENT ROOTS

Multiple Languages in One Nation

Several months ago we told you how the Iran of the Ancient Silk Roads has become a modern day linguistic crossroads for The Middle East and Central Asia.  Representatives from virtually every language of these areas live in Iran and speak their own tongue within its borders.  However, Iranians also have their own language called Farsi and it has ancient Persian roots.

One Language, Ancient Roots and Much Influence

Use of Old Persian, the grandmother of the Farsi used in Iran today, can actually be traced back to Persis, the capital of the Achaemenid Empire, discussed in a previous blog, so it is at least 2500 years old.  What was once the capital city of Persis is in the Fars Province of modern Iran, hence the name “Farsi.”

According to Farsinet.com, Farsi is the most widely spoken of the Iranian branch of the Indo-Iranian languages and Wikipedia says there are about 110 million people around the world who use it.  The primary countries using Farsi are Iran, Afghanistan and Turkmenistan, but it is considered a prestigious cultural language in Western, Central, and South Asia and has influenced neighboring tongues such as Arabic and the Turkic languages.

Because of a long history in literature, Middle Persian (the form before the current language and after the original Achaemenid use) was the first language in the Muslim world to break Arabic’s monopoly on writing, according to Wikipedia.  The literary classics in these countries include many works of Persian authorship.

So What?

Perhaps you are wondering why all of this matters to GHM.  Well, because the use of heart languages is foundational to what we do, that’s why.  Our programming is designed to reach the cultural heart of our viewers and part of that task is accomplished by using native speakers of our heart languages as hosts.  We have produced original Christian programming in Azerbaijani, Uzbek, and Turkmen.

To our delight, these programs are enjoyed throughout The Middle East and Central Asia, regardless of the name of the country, because the geographical boundaries have little influence on the use of heart languages.  Also, Azerbaijani, Uzbek, and Turkmen languages can be understood to a great degree by other people who also speak Turkish-based languages.

Now we want to take it to the next level.  Since Iranians already share the Persian culture our programs target, by lip-synch dubbing them into Farsi, we could multiply exponentially the number of potential viewers.  Remember, Farsi is spoken by 110 million people in the world and the influence of the Persian culture followed the Empire into the Indian subcontinent and throughout the rest of Asia.

Lip-synch dubbing is a translation method which seamlessly transforms the language spoken so well only an expert can tell it has been dubbed.  Imagine all the lost men, women, and children mired in hopelessness who could be freed into the joy of salvation by watching our programs.  So that is our dream, to lip-synch dub all the many programs we have already produced into Farsi.

While lip-synch dubbing a program is inexpensive in comparison to producing a new program, it still takes money.  While money is not something we like to spend much time talking about, it is very necessary to this opportunity the Lord of languages has set before us.  The Lord God confused the languages at the Tower of Babel and now He is leading us to take His message to His children who speak Farsi.

Help Reap the Harvest

Fulfilling the Great Commission in this generation.
Fulfilling the Great Commission in this generation.

You can partner with Global Heart Ministries to fulfill The Great Commission in this generation. Together we can bring the light and the truth of Jesus Christ right into the living rooms of every deceived child, every oppressed woman, and every hurting home. This is our message. This is our call.

We invite you to join this vision as a volunteer, a prayer warrior, or a financial donor. Contact us today by phone or email. Let us know how you’d like to partner with us as we reach out to the Most Unreached Regions of the World.

How Did a Jewess Become Queen of Persia?

HEARTS OVERFLOWING: QUEEN ESTHER AND ESTHER’S FRIENDS

Esther by Narmin Backus
Esther by Narmin Backus

Once Upon a Time

While the Bible contains many accounts reading more like an adventure story than part of a religious text, it could be argued the tale of Haddesah is one of the more remarkable:

A young orphan is being raised by her uncle in the city of Susa.  One day it is announced the king ‘s eunuchs are holding a beauty contest to find a new queen.  The lovely Haddesah is quickly chosen to be among the contestants and her personality is so sweetly unique she gains the notice of all.  Because of a friendship with the eunuch in charge of the contest and her own wisdom, she gains the king’s favor when presented to him and the lovely Haddesah becomes Queen Esther.  

The most wondrous thing about this tale is that it is absolutely true, but what makes it even more amazing is this: Haddesah is a Jew.  Today’s Jews still celebrate the festival of Purim, which commemorates her astonishing contribution to the nation of Israel.  How in the world did a Jewish orphan end up queen of a Persian court?

Artist's conceptual drawing of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon
Artist’s conceptual drawing of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon

The Babylonian Captivity

If you’ve read our most recent blogs about Persian history and culture, you’ll remember the Babylonian captivity of the nation of Israel, by King Nebuchadnezzar, brought Israeli captives from Israel to Babylon.  Then Cyrus the Great conquered Babylon, so he inherited the lands Nebuchadnezzar controlled and the Jewish captives in Babylon.

The magnanimous Cyrus allowed all of his subjects to follow their own religious persuasions and he allowed Jewish captives to return home.  The book of Nehemiah tells the story of the return to Jerusalem to rebuild the wall and the Temple.  However, not everyone wanted to return.

The Jews had been in Babylon for 70 years.  Many had been born there.  Many held important positions in the government of the Babylonians and continued to earn favors under Cyrus.  A life rebuilding their traditional home did not seem as desirable as continuing their pleasant sojourn under the auspices of the wise King Cyrus.

Susa today, a UNESCO world heritage site dates back to the time of Queen Esther
Susa today, a UNESCO world heritage site dates back to the time of Queen Esther

Enter Xerxes and the City of Susa

Susa is the city where the action in the book of Esther took place. While there are some scholars who tag Artaxerxes as the Persian king called Ahasuerus in the Book of Esther, most say Ahasuerus was Xerxes, the son of Darius.  Both kings made their home in Susa, a city which associated with both Daniel and Nehemiah, so one might say Haddesah was in the right place at the right time to save the Jewish nation.

Remember, at the time of Esther/Haddesah, Persia included everything from Turkey to India west to east and everything from Egypt to Russia south to north.  This means that the city of Jerusalem and its new temple were included.  It also means that far flung Jewish communities, like those still existing in Uzbekistan until today were under the rule of Queen Esther.

When the evil courtier Haman, frustrated by Queen Esther’s uncle Mordecai, tricked the King into allowing all the Jews of the Persian Empire to be killed, the entire Jewish race was within the reaches of the empire and they would have all been slain.  But King Ahasuerus didn’t know his queen was a Jew.  The wily Mordecai had insisted she keep this part of her history a secret.

Before revealing how Haman’s evil plot would reach into the palace of Susa and cost the king his queen, Esther and her ladies fasted and prayed.  The roll-out of Esther’s reveal contains cliff-hangers of the highest order, but they also demonstrate dramatically how the will of the Lord works out in the lives of real people – like the King and Queen of Persia, an evil courtier named Haman and Uncle Mordecai, who eventually became second only to the King in Persia.

Esther’s Friends

When Queen Esther wondered if it was indeed her place to approach the king about Haman’s scheme, her uncle told her it was likely God had placed her in her high position, “for such a time as this.”  Like Queen Esther, Global Heart Ministries has been placed in history at a very specific time – a time when technology has opened a window for the Gospel to shine its light into the Middle East and Central Asia.  We have no idea if this modern day miracle will continue, but as long as it does, like Esther, “thus [we] will go.”

Also, like Queen Esther, we have a group of ladies who join us in our endeavors.  We call them Esther’s Friends.  They pray for us, volunteer with us and donate to us on a regular basis, helping to further the Kingdom of God among the Persians and the Arabs.  If you’d like to join Esther’s Friends in our battle for the Gospel in the Middle East and Central Asia, contact our volunteer coordinator at jane.sadek@globalheartministries.org

Join Your Heart to Ours

Joining Esther’s Friends is just one of the ways you can partner with Global Heart Ministries to fulfill The Great Commission in this generation. Together we can bring the light and the truth of Jesus Christ right into the living rooms of every deceived child, every oppressed woman, and every hurting home. This is our message. This is our call.

We invite you to join this vision as a volunteer, a prayer warrior, or a financial donor.  Contact us today by phone or email.  Let us know how you’d like to partner with us as we reach out to the Most Unreached Regions of the World.