By Shannon Youell
I’d like to introduce you to Emmanuel Iranian Church and their pastor, Arash Azad.
The church was planted around five years ago. At the time that the Church Planting Team met with Arash in the summer of 2018, the congregation had grown to 150. They continue to grow and are currently at about 200 people.
A few weeks ago, 29 people were baptized and there are already over 20 people in the next baptism class. Arash tells us that not only have they grown in number but in rootedness of the knowledge of God and in love.
The congregation is Farsi speaking and primarily composed of new immigrants including many Muslim converts to Christianity. The church meets in North Vancouver, BC, at Sutherland Church near Hillside Baptist Church. Arash and the congregation quickly grew in the hearts of the staff and congregants during their time renting at Hillside, and though it was logistically necessary to find another space to meet in, Hillside and EIC continue to be connected. Hillside staff are walking with Arash in mentorship, accountability and relationship.
Arash was born and raised an atheist. His parents were political prisoners in Iran. In the course of his growing-up years he was influenced by an aunt who had moved to Great Britain, and had become a Christian. In his telling, he decided to prove her wrong by researching major religions of the world to prove religion itself was unnecessary in the 20th century. In his search for truth, one night his aunt invited him to just pray with her:
My aunt suggested me to join her in prayer and ask the Holy Spirit reveal the Truth to me. The presence and vision I saw in the summer night of 1998 melted my heart and humbled me before the Lord.
Since that time, Arash has had a strong calling to share the Good News of the kingdom of God to all who will hear. Every time we speak with him, he conveys the privilege of joining God at work among the Farsi speaking community and how patience and perseverance has brought forth many Muslim background people to faith. He expresses how much joy and happiness swells in his heart as Iranians, many of whom have suspicion towards the Christian faith, discover God’s presence and give their hearts to the Lord.
Praise God for His work in the Iranian community through Pastor Arash!