People pay a price across the world for believing Jesus died for sinners, was buried and raised alive. Faith in the resurrection comes with a cost. Most of us don’t even want to spend time reading about the cost of following Christ; it’s a downer. I agreed to review Too Many to Jail for Kregel Publishers, because I believe disciples of Christ need to know how God is working globally and how to pray for those in the grip of evil. We need to learn from them and stand by them and be amazed at how God still overcomes darkness.
When I started reading Too Many to Jail, I was illiterate about the history of Iran and God’s movement there. Chapters 1-4 of the 8 are not for the faint of heart; it’s an essential record of how God allows governments and leaders to rule in an area of the world historically caught in religious turmoil. Author Mark Bradley documents the timeline of events, instructing the reader in Middle Eastern history that many of us chalked up to “confusing” in years past. We need to know these things, because today’s world continues to see fear used as a weapon and evil triumphing when “good” men do nothing. We need to know, because technology is a missions movement of its own. We need to know, because scarf-wrapped Muslim women sit beside us at PTA meetings and coffee shops and playgrounds. We need to know, because the nightly news is littered with reports of extremists acts in the name of Islam.
People are evil because they are without Christ. War, pain, and violence breed evil, but it also prepares people for a Redeemer. When people are disillusioned by violence committed in the name of God, they thirst for truth and mercy.
This well documented unveiling of God’s work in Iran left me in awe of His power. Because of other reading I have done and cross-cultural experiences I have had, I do believe God works differently in different cultures. I admit, the writer shared events and interviews that sometimes aggravated my doctrinal and cultural comfort level. Specifically, content regarding the role of women, an emphasis in Iran on visions and speaking in tongues, and charismatic tendencies left me with a lot to ponder. If you anticipate the same, don’t let the challenges become obstacles to keep you from reading.
10 Things I Learned from Too Many to Jail
- We need to expect the supernatural
- We need to reach out to our families first
- We need to share testimonies regularly
- We need to understand how evil is moving & how God is moving
- We need to cultivate a heart of understanding & love for lost people
- We need to pray for believers in seasons of persecution
- We need to stand for our own faith
- We need to look to older believers as mentors
- We need to be godly people of influence
- We need to prepare for persecution
Why do we pray for the “persecuted” church, as if only some believers should pay a price for faith? When we live in comfortable places, our prayers always go to deliverance. But our imprisoned brothers and sisters want us to pray for steadfastness, witness, and faithfulness to the end.
This is not a book for pleasure, but for prayer. As I read, I learned, grieved, and prayed. So many people have come to Christ in Iran that there are TOO MANY TO JAIL. In 1979 there were fewer than 500 known Muslim background believers in Iran; today there are at least 100,000. House churches have grown as the gospel has changed lives. Paul’s words could be written from modern day Iran:
“I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel … that my imprisonment is for Christ. And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.” (Philippians 1:12-14)
Too Many to Jail is well worth the time for a follower of Christ. I doubt it will become a movie, inspire t-shirts, or be the seed for a gift set and desk calendar. But it will leave you much more bold to speak the word without fear.
Several related books I recommend:
Purchase Too Many to Jail here. Thru April 5, the eBook is just $0.99!