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.
I recently had the privilege of sitting down in our studio with my dear friend, Joel Rosenberg. You may know Joel through his many NY Times bestselling books, his educational and charitable organization, The Joshua Fund, or his blog (http://flashtrafficblog.wordpress.com) and Twitter account (@joelcrosenberg), both of which I follow and strongly recommend you do as well.
I know Joel as passionate Follower of Jesus Christ, whose heart for the Gospel to be proclaimed and embraced in the Middle East, even in Iran, is unmatched and genuine.
During his visit, Joel and I sat down and had a wonderful conversation about the Middle East and specifically his thoughts related to Iran in the Scriptures and the unique role the Lord has in store for this dangerous, beautiful and spiritually open country.
Last October, I had the privilege of speaking live on the air with a troubled woman living inside Iran. She had very recently attempted suicide and had plans to follow through with a successful bid to take her own life later that day. She had spoken several times with one of our Counseling Center ministers over the course of few weeks, but felt that her life was worthless. She was completely hopeless. She called that day to apologize to our counselor and let her know that what she was about to do was not her fault.
As the Lord graciously laid out the timing, Roghiyeh called while we were broadcasting our live program. Our counselor convinced her to speak with me on air before doing anything further. She agreed.
What you will see is a shortened version of a 20 minute conversation, in which I struggled to convince Roghiyeh that death was not the answer. She was actually more afraid of converting to Christianity, than death! Islam feeds on controlling people through fear. Roghiyeh felt trapped.
Through God’s endless grace and mercy, she was transformed before our eyes in that conversation from hopelessness, to joyful hope.
Following my conversation with Roghiyeh, you will get a very recent update on her life, which I think you will find very encouraging.
Iran…the world’s only theocracy and home to such infamous leaders as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Ali Hosseini Khamenei and the late Ayatollah Khomeini, who ushered in the brutal Islamic regime in the revolution of 1979…the same country whose government counts such countries as Lebanon, Venezuela and Syria, China and Russia as friends…the same nation that has labeled the United States as the Great Satan and Israel the Little Satan and is among the most public anti-Semitic, anti-Christian and anti-women’s rights nations in the world…this Iran, has the fastest growing Evangelical population in the world!
You may be thinking to yourself, “Well, if the Evangelical population has grown from 10 to 1,000 people, that explains rapid growth, but it is a bit underwhelming.” Actually, conservative estimates place the Evangelical population of Iran around 1,000,000! Compare that with the estimated 500 Christians that were believed to exist in Iran in 1979 when the Islamic Revolution took place. The fact is, more Persians have come to Christ in the 34 years since the Islamic Revolution than in the 1,400 years prior, combined. Most of these have occurred in just the past decade, as satellite TV has become a pervasive tool for safely and effectively taking the Gospel into the homes of the 55 million Persians who have access to satellite dishes.
It is for this reason that I have spent the past 11 years devoting my ministry efforts into satellite TV programming and launched a 24/7 Farsi network with the objective of taking the message of Hope into the homes of these millions of hopeless and desperate people.
You can see in the chart below, taken from the research of Operation World, that the highlighted countries are Farsi speaking nations, which our satellite TV signal reaches with 24/7 Christ-centered programming.
I like to tell people that God is running a special on Muslims right now. There has never been a more exciting or fruitful time to be about the business of Kingdom building in Iran than Right Now!
Chart courtesy of: Jason Mandryk, Operation World: The Definitive Prayer Guide to Every Nation (Colorado Springs, CO: Biblica Publishing, 2010), 916.
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!