This is a startling statistic, which is changing the face of Iran and has the potential to impact the entire Middle East. Let me explain.
When I was a young college graduate, living in Iran during the Islamic Revolution of 1979, I was part of a generation that was demanding change. At the time, we did not know that we were exchanging something we perceived as bad, for something much, much worse than we could ever have imagined. Today, only 30% of Iran’s surviving population was even alive at that time. The overwhelming majority of the population knows nothing but the incredible persecution and oppression that they have experienced under a government that they never asked for and certainly do not want.
Perhaps this helps to shed some light on fact #5, The Mosques Are Empty. The younger generation has seen only a lifetime of misery and hopelessness, while the older generation has seen broken promises and a system that has failed them completely.
As a result of this youthful demographic, Iran has established itself as a top consumer and producer of social media in the Middle East, despite the fact that the government attempts to restrict Internet access and intimidate people from engaging with Facebook, Twitter, personal blogs and other forms of Social Media. However, as with all younger generations, Iran’s youth possesses technological savvy and continues to stay ahead of the government’s attempts to stem the tide.
You need only look at the Green Movement of 2009, when tens of thousands of young Iranians flooded the streets of Tehran to protest the presidential election results. The horrific shooting death of Nedā Āghā-Soltān was captured on a cell phone, uploaded to the Internet and viral within hours.
Pray for the youth of Iran, as they are the key to reaching the country for Christ.
When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.” —Acts 2:1-13
As we read Luke’s account of the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2, something amazing occurs, which may not jump off the page to you at first. As the Holy Spirit descends on the Apostles and their followers, giving them the ability to speak in each other’s languages, the multitude around them was bewildered by what they were witnessing. Recognizing that these men were from various regions, each with it’s own language, they were amazed to hear them speaking to each other in their non-native language.
Luke goes on to record their astonishment by quoting the list of nations present. Notice the first three mentioned; Parthians and Medes and Elamites. All of these are people groups were from Persia…known today as Iran!
Actually, Iran has a significant presence in Scripture, which I will unpack in future posts.
My friend, who recently traveled to Iran and took the photo of the empty mosque in my previous post, was also blown away by the overwhelming warm reception he received from the people of Iran. Even though I told him to expect the people he would meet to be intrigued by an American visiting Iran, he was not prepared for the welcome he received in every city he toured.
In fact, he told me, “I have never been high-fived or hugged so much in my life just for being an American than I was in Iran!” He was invited to people’s homes, asked for photographs and even told while being embraced by a stranger in a park, “You are my brother. I am so glad you are here.”
What is portrayed in the media is quite different than the reality of what exists inside the borders of one of the least understood countries in the world.
I want to be clear, however. The Islamic controlled government and clergy are indeed extremely dangerous, violent and hateful people who in fact do not love America, Americans or anyone who does not identify themselves with Islam. This group represents only a fraction of the population. Unfortunately, it is the only segment we ever see in the West.
A friend of mine, who was in Iran recently, confirmed what Persians around the world already knew. During his trip, he visited more than a dozen mosques in several cities over the course of 10 days. Some of these visits were on one of two Fridays, which is the holy day of Shi’a Islam, when you would expect to find the most people in the mosques. It is equivalent to Sunday mornings in America.
With the call to prayer sounding over the speakers throughout the cities, my friend witnessed a TOTAL of 2 people worshipping in the mosques! This is a cumulative total over the course of 10 days (2 of which were Fridays), in several cities, while the call to prayer was sounding!
Does this sound like the Iran you have pictured in your mind?
It is with great excitement that I write the first post on my new Blog!
My prayer is that you will find this site to be a useful resource to better understanding Iran, it’s people and how the Lord is working there unlike any other time in history. Each week, I will post my personal thoughts related to Iran and the Middle East based upon my own experiences as a former Muslim who was born and raised in Iran, who later came to a saving knowledge of Christ and who has spent the last 35 years following the Lord’s calling to take the Gospel back to my countrymen.
I will be posting video entries, photos and relaying testimonies of brave brothers and sisters in Christ who are subjected to intense persecution and daily danger inside Iran as they seek to follow Him and make Him known. I will also comment on current events in Iran and the rest of the Middle East regularly.
Join me as we take a look at one of the least understood countries in the world. I think you will be surprised!