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The Burden of Baggage

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Table of Contents

List of Tables and Figures



Chapter 1: Brief History

Chapter 2: Experiencing Church

Chapter 3: The Luggage We Bring

Chapter 4: Can We Just Play Nice?

Chapter 5: All in the Family

Chapter 6: Everyone Wants to Be a Leader

Chapter 7: Conversion Is Like a Bomb Going Off

Chapter 8: Where Do We Go from Here?

Chapter 9: Conclusion

Appendix A: Research Methodology

Appendix B: Interviews

Appendix C: Research Questions

Appendix D: Distribution of Interviewees

Appendix E: Suggested Readings of Cultural Commentaries



The Burden of Baggage
First-Generation Issues in Coming to Christ
Roy Oksnevad

Overcoming Cultural Baggage One Generation at a Time.

This uncommon resource targets a little discussed, but highly prevalent challenge that first-generation churches face. Specifically, The Burden of Baggage explores how cultural upbringing can be both a strength and a weakness as it impacts expressions of church life as seen in the personal, interpersonal, family, leadership styles, and spiritual walk.

Every person coming to Christ has baggage, but a first-generation believer, especially one coming from a background with little or no connection to Christianity, has an uncommon amount of cultural baggage that they bring with them. This book tackles common issues and sees specific examples played out in the Iranian church as a prime example of these challenges. While the book focuses on Muslim-background believers from Iran, it has transferable insight for Other-background believers from any oppressive regime and therefore is highly encouraging in the universality of the struggle that new believers face as they draw near to Christ.

Readers will walk away knowing they are not alone in their struggles as they deal with gut-wrenching issues that often aren’t able to be solved in one generation, and yet gain hope from the redemptive stories within.


  • The Burden of Baggage provides a realistic and detailed look into the inner joys and struggles of ex-Muslims now striving to live for Christ as a diaspora. Instead of glowing post-conversion stories, the book not only unveils their newfound happiness as believers and their fellowship with other Christians, but also the reality of pain and conflicts, community struggles over identity and belonging, and the pastoral and discipleship challenges of forming them into Christ followers. All who read this book will go away convinced of the priority of discipleship among Muslim converts to Christ—to pray, journey, and struggle with them more deeply and knowledgeably over the long haul.
    John Cheong, PhDmissiologist and MBB discipleship researcher in Asia
  • Never has there been a greater need to understand Muslim people. Dr. Oksnevad, with over thirty years of experience and an impressive writing and research history, offers insights that will enlighten, instruct, and provide practical applications.
    Duane Elmer, PhDdistinguished professor, international studies, emeritus Trinity International University/Divinity School
  • I highly recommend Dr. Oksnevad’s book. I am an Islamicist, and while we have many texts that generally cover missions to Muslims, there is very little good research on specific people groups; their challenges when they embrace Christianity; the problems when those challenges are responded to via acting out; and, more importantly, steps Christians can take to help a fledgling and sometimes flailing Iranian church. Dr. Oksnevad’s work is a step in the right direction to address the realities experienced individually and collectively by Iranian Muslim-background believers in the West.
    Steve A. Johnson, PhDassistant professor of ministry care, Columbia International University
  • Dr. Roy Oksnevad is a great trusted friend, brother, and coworker in Christ with some of us at the Association of the Iranian Presbyterian Churches and Fellowships of North America, also known as Anjoman among Iranian Christians in diaspora. Roy has done an outstanding work based on his tedious study and research on the topic of success and failures/problems of the Iranian Christian churches in diaspora presented in this book. The Anjoman strongly recommends every Iranian church member in diaspora, pastor, leader, elder, and lay person to read and study this book and seek God to help them to first recognize/diagnose the problematic issues as well as to follow the biblical guidelines and counsels given in this book to rectify those issues. Let us remember that with God’s help, everything is possible!
    Tommy Mayvaianmoderator, on behalf of Anjoman
  • Thorough in the research presented and knowledgeable of the history and culture of the Iranian people, Oksnevad presents an insightful look inside the community of believers from Muslim backgrounds. It is noteworthy to see portrayed how Iranian culture carries over into the church, impacting both its strengths and vulnerabilities. Many insights into internal struggles in Middle Eastern churches in general are gained through this focused study on Iranian believers. This is the only book I know that portrays the MBB community from the inside out based on in-depth interviews.
    Marvin J. Newell, DMissformer senior vice president, Missio Nexus
  • The Islamic world is in turmoil. Millions of refugee families flee the Middle East to countries where they will not be persecuted for becoming followers of Jesus. Many are disenchanted with Islamic violence, rampant in their personal experience. Many are impressed with the love shown to them by Christians. We hear credible stories of hundreds of Muslim families turning to Christ every day. Yet the task of incorporating new followers of Jesus from Muslim backgrounds is filled with difficulties and challenges. Dr. Oksnevad provides most the valuable insights in The Burden of Baggage. The historical perspective reflects the complicated nature of understanding modern Islam today. His blend of insights from solid research and personal experience provides both theoretical and practical steps for helping Muslim converts grow in their newfound faith. This is a much-needed book for those helping new believers of Muslim background grow toward maturity in Christ. Such an important and timely book and resource is urgently needed. I highly recommend the book.
    James E. Plueddemann, PhDprofessor of intercultural studies, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
  • The church among Iranians worldwide is growing fast in numbers, but is facing major challenges in growing in spirituality, health, and impact. Roy has spent countless hours researching the roots and causes of the cultural issues that threaten the budding church of Iran. This book is a “must read” for all Iranian Pastors or those who work among Iranian Christians.
    Hormoz Shariat, PhDpresident/founder, Iran Alive Ministries
  • Dr. Roy Oksnevad graphically exposes his diagnosis of distrust, insecurity, and disharmony in interpersonal relationships and leadership clashes in the post-conversion experience of MBBs in the adolescent Iranian church in the diaspora. The prescription he offers to nurture believers and congregations to maturity in Christ is also powerfully instructive for wholesome discipleship of MBBs from other ethnic backgrounds. Dr. Oksnevad’s personal ministry journey with Muslims for over three decades and the research based on his personal in-depth interviews make this volume credible and compelling. Its content is groundbreaking and long overdue!

    Dr. T. V. Thomas, DMinchairman, Global Diaspora Network (GDN)

Additional Details

  • Pages: 210
  • Publisher: William Carey Publishing
  • Binding: paperback
  • Publish Year: 2019
  • ISBN: 9780878080823
  • Vendor: William Carey Library

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