“Our House Was Converted into a Church”

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.

Our Team Praying on the Set of Church 7

Our team praying on the set of Church 7

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.
 
His grace be with you now and for ever.

 


My Testimony at the Chosen People Ministries Conference

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 Rouhani’s Visit to the U.S. Represents No Real Change

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

Rouhani publicly released 11 political prisoners just days before his visit to the U.S., but has released zero since then.

Nasrin Sotoudeh with her family after being released from prison

Nasrin Sotoudeh with her family after her release

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.


Rouhani Came to Give a False Sense of Hope to the U.S.

Rouhani came to give a false sense of hope to the U.S., while keeping his support at home with the Mullahs…both of which he accomplished.

Rouhani addressing the U.N.

Rouhani addressing the U.N.

As I mentioned in my previous post, Hassan Rouhani is an expert negotiator.  He is also a very intelligent and a savvy politician, with great skills of persuasion and influence.

Following in the footsteps of the much less prudent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Rouhani had very little work to do in order to establish himself as the more civil, if not congenial, face of Iran.  Ahmadinejad also managed to estrange himself from the Supreme Leader and Mullahs of Iran through his unpredictable public speeches and unwillingness to stay within the boundaries of his role.  Consequently, Rouhani had very little chance of being anything but a perceived conspicuous improvement over his predecessor in the eyes of both the U.S. and Iran.

The combination of his skill set as a deft negotiator, (in the international nuclear development arena no less), and the instant benefit of the doubt he has been given since he has to be better than the extremist before him, set the stage for Rouhani to please everyone.

Promising to negotiate on Iran’s nuclear program in “good faith,” Rouhani managed to commit to nothing measurable or tangible, but still give the impression of cooperation and the willingness to change.  Did I mention that he is an expert negotiator?

Having left the U.S. without committing to anything concrete and charming the world all while standing up the President of the United States of America and receiving his phone call as he left the country, Hassan Rouhani earned tremendous points with the Supreme Leader and Mullahs in Iran.

Please join me in praying for our world leaders to have great wisdom and discernment as they navigate the rocky terrain of negotiations with Iran.  Only He can steer us on the right path…that which leads to the foot of the cross.


Hassan Rouhani is an Experienced, Expert Nuclear Negotiator

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani

If this is the way the majority of the world sees Rouhani… the world needs to take a closer look.

Rouhani’s involvement in Iran’s political landscape predates the Islamic Revolution of 1979.  As a young cleric, Rouhani regularly gave speeches against the government of the Shah of Iran, whose cooperative posture with the U.S. did not please the Islamic clergy.  After the revolution, Rouhani established himself in Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s inner circle and quickly earned prominent positions within his regime.

In 1989, Rouhani was appointed as the first Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), a position he kept for the next 16 years.  Known for his negotiating prowess, Rouhani garnered the nickname “Diplomat Sheikh” by Iranian news media.

Through the confirmation of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Hassan Rouhani was placed in charge of Iran’s nuclear case in 6 October 2003.  His objective was to lead a team that would deflect attention from Iran’s newly discovered nuclear development and run interference with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that would prevent the rapid acceleration of allegations against Iran resulting a report of Iran’s nuclear case to the United Nations Security Council.

Rouhani and his team were successful in this endeavor until he stepped out of the role in 2005 as a result of the election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and subsequent disagreements between the two leaders. Ahmadinejad’s antagonistic demeanor and unwillingness to fulfill his role as diplomat to the West contributed to the contentious posture, which has resulted in heavy sanctions and pressure from the U.S. and it’s allies.

It is this same Rouhani who is now representing the nuclear intentions of The Islamic Republic of Iran to a leery, yet hopeful, audience of world leaders.

Rouhani has vast experience in the art of deception.  He is a seasoned expert and adept at creating smokescreens to cover up Iran’s nuclear activities and intentions.  His skills in delay techniques may be sufficient to buy enough time for his superiors to finish the development of nuclear weaponry.

I pray that President Obama and his counterparts in the U.N. have a working knowledge of Hassan Rouhani’s resume and credentials and the wisdom to treat his statements with great caution and apprehension.