Yaran is a shepherd living in a contested piece of land that some call Iraq, and others call Kurdistan.
His people have a proverb: "We have no friends but the mountains." The Qandil range, with its peaks rising to almost 12,000 feet, has often served as a needed refuge in a volatile world. But as the Kurdish people know well, the mountains are never enough. The cruelty of the Hussein regime, followed by the war and the advance of ISIS towards their borders, has provided a context of ongoing instability, pain, and loss.
Earlier this year, Yaran met followers of Jesus online. At some point in their conversations, Yaran asked an unusual question: "Have you ever been on a podcast?"
The wife had, in fact - a series of interviews with Crescent Project radio about her experiences with Embassy. She had talked about sharing the gospel online with Muslims in closed nations…with people like Yaran. Needless to say, she was hesitant to send the link. But after some prayer, she said yes...and Yaran received the one podcast he probably least expected.
Maybe not surprisingly, Yaran became angry. For some time, he broke off communication with the family. But then, one day, he sent a simple message: "I finished it." He said that he wasn't angry anymore. The family asked what he had finished - her interview?
No, he wrote. He had listened to the entire series. Every single podcast.
95 episodes: over 45 hours of content about Jesus.
Yaran wrote to explain more: He had been spending his time in the fields with his sheep, riding on a donkey's back, with headphones on. Locked on this station.
Like some modern-day version of Luke 2, Yaran was keeping watch over his flock when he heard “Good news of great joy that will be for all people.”
He heard of Christ, the one who came to rescue and deliver all who look to him: Jesus, our refuge, Jesus, our friend (John 15:15).
Yaran is not yet a believer, but we look with joy to see how Christ brings to completion that which he started (Philippians 1:6). As you set up your Nativity scenes this Christmas, please think of Yaran, and join us in prayer for his salvation!
PS. Yaran, if you’re reading this (I believe you’ve been sent the link?) - Merry Christmas. We pray that God blesses you in the name of Jesus Christ.