One of the great joys I have is hearing stories of life transformation from people inside Iran who watch our programming. It is such a tangible way for me and my staff to see the Lord’s work through this ministry.
Below, I have copied the testimony from a viewer who wrote an email to our Counseling Center. I hope you will find it as encouraging as I do.
As always, all names and images have been changed in order to protect the identities of those involved.
Hello to my dear friends,
I do not have enough words to thank dear Pastor Hormoz and the friends in Shabakeh 7 (our satellite network in Iran) who have freed me from total ignorance.
I am an anesthesiologist specialist in Iran. In my heart, I believe in Jesus Christ, yet of course I have much to learn as a disciple. I always thought that being a physician made me the most needed person in the lives of the people around me.
However, watching your program one day, I learned about the Great Physician, Jesus Christ. What struck me most, was his humility, which I clearly did not have.
I was ashamed of myself. Compared to Christ, I am nothing. My qualifications as a physician mean nothing without Him. I thank you for making that clear to me.
Iran will temporarily halt parts of its nuclear program and allow for more inspection; in return, the West will provide immediate relief from some of the sanctions and will impose no new sanctions for six months.
Last week’s nuclear agreement between Iran and the western powers was historical. To some, it may even seem to be a breakthrough given the tenuous relationships shared by Iran and the West. However, reading the news is confusing as some news articles report that it was a “total victory and a great step forward,” while others surmised, “it was a total failure.”
So which is it? Was it a good deal or a bad deal? The answer depends on the perspective from which the deal is evaluated. Below, I look at this deal and make evaluations of my own, considering 5 unique perspectives from those who will be impacted most deeply.
It was a bad deal for Israel and the Gulf countries
Since 1979, Israel and the Gulf countries such as Saudi Arabia and Emirates have been afraid of Iran. Countries in the region such as Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria have watched Iran aggressively increase its influence. They feel that a nuclear-armed Iran will pose a serious danger to their respected national security. They also believe that Iran will at least use its nuclear arsenal to bully them and the rest of its neighbors. Iran is already doing that now, but with a nuclear bomb, its bullying and meddling in the affairs of other countries in the region will increase dramatically. This new deal does not remove the danger to Israel and Gulf countries, but increases it exponentially.
Netanyahu has called this deal “a historic mistake” and has stated, “it turns the world into a much scarier place.” For the first time Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries are agreeing with Israel.
It was a bad deal for the US and President Obama’s credibility
It damaged the US’s relationship with Israel and important allies such as Saudi Arabia.
Some have called it a “fool’s deal” as it seems that the West has agreed to an immediate action, (removing some of the sanctions, stopping the addition of new sanctions, and releasing 7 billion dollars of Iranian assets), in return for unverifiable promises in the future.
It was a good deal for the government of Iran
As Obama is under fire and trying to defend the deal in the US, the government of Iran is celebrating their perceived victory.
Iran got money and time to continue its nuclear program with little more commitment than a promise to not build new centrifuges in the next 6 months. The deal, however, left the nuclear infrastructure intact. Iran now has the money to do what it wants to continue with its nuclear program plans and goals.
This deal helps Iran to prepare better for possible future sanctions. So even if new sanctions are imposed in 6 months, it will not have as much impact as it could have.
Iran knows that President Obama does not want to go to war, which puts the US in a weaker position. Iran has been declaring that they are not afraid to go to war and that they are ready for it. They feel they have caused Obama to blink and agree to a favorable deal for their purposes.
It was a good deal for the lives of people in Iran (physically)
It has an immediate impact in increasing the value of Iranian currency (more purchasing power)
It seems to postpone the possibility of war. The possible attack on Iran, when it happens, will bring much suffering to the people of Iran and will take the lives of so many innocent Christian and Muslim people.
This deal takes away the fear of imminent attack on Iran which has put stress in the hearts of the ordinary citizens of Iran for the last two years. People of Iran will live in less fear for at least the next six months.
The people of Iran are happy about this deal because it gives them temporary relief. All the Iranians that I have talked to are convinced that the Iranian government deceived the West to get this deal and soon will find out that this was a deception and reinstate the strict sanctions and threats of military attacks. When I ask them what they think about this deal, many just laugh and say, “Americans are so naïve.”
It was a bad deal: for the lives of people in Iran (spiritually)
This deal gives the people of Iran a false hope. They have been open spiritually because they have been living in fear and hopelessness for so many years. This new deal gives them a false hope and reduces their fear. This may cause them to be less open spiritually.
It distracts them. They feel they have 6 months to secure themselves and prepare for the hardship that is coming. They will be busy making money and spending it for an unknown and unstable future. This can distract them from spiritual pursuit.
Join me in praying:
That the Lord will postpone the war and give the people of Iran a chance to know Him.
That the people of Iran will not invest in a false hope, but that their hopelessness will lead them to the true source of eternal hope: Jesus Christ.
My dear friend and Middle East expert, Joel C. Rosenberg (@joelcrosenberg), has been posting his thoughts on the nuclear deal recently struck by the US, Russia, Germany, UK, France and China with Iran.
I highly recommend reading his most recent post, as he highlights the major points of the deal and gives wonderful insight regarding the implications on Israel and the West.
In the coming days, I am going to post my own thought on the issue, from the perspective of Iranians…specifically those who follow Jesus. Check back for these posts, as I will provide a unique perspective that may be helpful as you learn about the impact of this significant event.
As you know from reading my previous posts, there are no above ground churches inside Iran. Until a few months ago, there was actually one building church, the Central Church of Iran, that was allowed to exist. It was highly regulated and everyone who walked in the door was registered with the government. Many of them were harassed and persecuted as a result, even though the church was allowed to exist.
It too has been closed, leaving every Christian in the country with the choice of finding an underground house church, or plugging in to Church 7, our global satellite Church for Iran. You can read more about this strategy in my post, “Our House Was Converted into a Church”.
Below, I have copied an email we just received from a Church 7 member, whose family found themselves orphaned after the Central Church of Iran closed it’s doors. I know you will find it encouraging. There is no doubt the Lord is using Satellite TV to transform Iran into a Christian nation in this generation.
My name is Amir and I am a member of Church 7. Through this letter, I want to thank you for not leaving us alone. You provide food for us who are alone in Iran.
My wife and I always cancel our plans on Friday nights in order to participate in Church 7. Sometimes we even invite friends to come to Church with us by telling people that Church has not been closed after all. We record all of Church 7 programs and when we gather with our friends, we watch them and worship together.
The Lord has been faithful, just as he promised, and has not left us alone. Even after the closing of the Central Church of Iran, of which we were members, we have not become orphans. We have a Church to go to, where we worship and receive our teachings.
I want you to know that we love you all and to let you know that for us, your programs are a living hope.
One of the ministers in our Counseling Center Ministry gave me this note of encouragement from a Church 7 member/viewer inside Iran. I think you will find it encouraging as well. It beautifully illustrates the openness of the people of Iran to the Gospel and their distrust of Islam.
My name is Mahmoud (name changed for security) and I am contacting you from Iran. I am a member of Church 7 and love you all.
My friends an I used to attend the prayer meetings held by the Mullahs. They would always say bad things and curse at Christians, Jews and other religions. They always thought that they were better then everyone else. You guys are different than the Mullahs here. You are full of love and kindness. I wish that everyone here was more like you.
When I watch the Church 7 programs, I see that you guys even pray for your enemies. This is very touching and it caused me to feel a change in my spirit. I am so happy that I have found Jesus and know that I will be living with God the rest of my days.
I pray for all of you. Continue doing what you do because we need you guys!
I have previously written about the amazing fact that Iran is home to the fastest growing Evangelical population in the world according to the extensive research of Operation World. Considering that at the time of the Islamic Revolution of 1979, there were an estimated 500 total believers in Iran, compared with 1 million by conservative estimates today, it is not difficult to see the tangible expression of Operation World’s research.
Due to the stifling persecution of Christians by the Iranian government and resulting reluctance of believers to trust the security of plugging into community with people they do not know, the most liberal estimates assume that 30,000 people are members of underground house churches inside Iran.
While this is worth celebrating, it is also merits noting that there are at least 970,000 believers inside Iran who have no connection to fellowship with other believers. This is a staggering reality that must be addressed.
This June, we launched an initiative called Church 7, which is intended to concentrate on meeting the needs of these 97% of believers who desperately long for a church community. Because of the power of Satellite TV safely and privately bring the Gospel into the homes of millions of Persians, we are able to create a church service for a nation.
Rather than broadcasting a service from an existing church with a congregation, where the viewer is simply an observer, we have a very simple set and let the viewers know that they are the church. Every Friday, which the the weekly holy day of Shia Islam and a holiday for all Iranians, we have church in Iran!
We are in the process of developing programming throughout the week that will meet the needs of the Body. For example, on Wednesday nights, the youth will watch “gather” for youth group and watch a special program intended for their development, like any church with a Youth Ministry. The same will be true throughout the week for Men’s and Women’s Ministry, Marriage, Singles, Children, etc…
This is a very exciting time to be engaged in Kingdom Building in Iran!
Below, I have copied a Facebook post from one of our newest Church 7 members. I think you will be encouraged have a greater understanding of the potential of this opportunity:
Hello Dear Brother,
We thank God that after a long time we experienced being at Church.
Yesterday when your program started, we placed our chairs in front of the TV, put on our best clothes, brought our Bibles and sat in front of the TV. We worshiped, heard a sermon and took notes. Our house was converted into Church.
Dear brother, our spirits were lifted. I don’t know how to thank God for the fact that we now belong to a Church. Our prayers have been heard. The doors have opened. Thank you Father, thank you.
Please accept us as your members.
Praise God for you. Praise for Christ who is alive.
Be strong and go forth. We are praying for you all.
We love you guys so much. I feel like we are old relatives. I feel like I have known you for many years.
Recently, I had the privilege of speaking at the Chosen People Ministries conference at Calvary Baptist Church in New York City. It was such a joy to be with amazing teachers like Dr. Craig Blaising, Dr. Darrell Bock, Dr. Robert Chisholm, Jr., Dr. Mitch Glaiser, Joel Rosenberg and others, all of whom come from different backgrounds, but serve the same Savior.
I was honored to represent the Muslim Background Believing community and share my personal journey to salvation through faith in Christ with many Jewish Background Believers. We all served as great encouragements to one another.
I hope you enjoy the video of my presentation at this wonderful event.
President Hassan Rouhani’s visit to the U.S., while historic, represents no real change in the Iranian government since the Supreme Leader and Islamic clergy rule and run the country.
In this short video, I discuss why President Rouhani is simply a different face on the same political system that has been in place in Iran since the Islamic Revolution of 1979. Regardless of who is elected president, the simple fact is the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, makes every high level policy decision and will never abdicate that power to anyone else until his replacement has been named, likely upon his own death.
Pray that Ayatollah Ali Khamenei will come to a saving knowledge of Jesus and truly lead a transformation of Iran unlike anything we have ever seen.
Rouhani publicly released 11 political prisoners just days before his visit to the U.S., but has released zero since then.
Only days prior to his visit to the U.S. and subsequent U.N. address, President Hassan Rouhani ordered the release of 11 political prisoners. 8 women, including noted human rights lawyer, Nasrin Sotoudeh, and 3 men were freed from prison or house arrest sentences stemming from anti-government activities.
I am certainly thankful for the release of these men and women, regardless of the motives behind this obvious public relations maneuver. Without doubt, their families are celebrating this unexpected blessing, as they should. I know the many hundreds of other families with loved ones in Iranian prisons are fervently praying for similar news to come their way in the near future. I am joining them in prayer for this outcome as well.
If past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior, however, I fear that these families may be in for a lengthy wait. I truly pray that I am wrong.
What I do know is that the prisons are absolutely stuffed with offenders whose crimes are markedly similar to the 11 recently released. This is not even beginning to consider our Christian brothers and sisters who are languishing in jail cells since their faith in Christ is viewed as a direct transgression against Islam and the government, since the two are not only inseparable, they are one and the same.
Please join me in praising the Lord for the release of the 11 prisoners on September 18. Let us pray together that this is just the tip of the iceberg for many hundreds to follow in spite of what history seems to indicate.