5. Will the US and Iran partner in Iraq to stop ISIS?
Both have similar interests: to help the current Shiite Government of Iraq maintain control and stop the Sunni ISIS from taking over Iraq.
They may partner in some ways to help stop ISIS but will never acknowledge it publicly.
Iran has a major influence in Iraq where the majority of the population is Shiites and the government is led by Shiites.
Iran’s goal has been to get the US out of Iraq and be the sole influencer of the Shiite Iraqi regime. They are happy that the US has pulled out of Iraq and do not want to see the US’s influence and presence increase. Therefore, they may work with the US for the short time but will want the US out of Iraq as soon as ISIS is stopped.
4. How the events in Iraq will impact His Kingdom?
Christians in Iraq and Syria have been persecuted and have been leaving as refugees.
Under ISIS, the killing and persecution of Christians will dramatically increase. It has already started and there will be a mass exodus of Christians.
The brutality of ISIS will cause millions of Muslims to have an objective look at Islam. Many of them will come to reject Islam and become open to the message of the Gospel. This is what happened in Iran. Millions of Syrian refugees have seen the brutality of Islamist “freedom fighters” of ISIS. Many of them are coming to Christ in refugee camps in Turkey.
ISIS stands for Islamic State in Iraq and (greater) Syria.
They are the coalition of Sunni forces in Iraq and Syria.
Their immediate goal is to topple two Shiite governments in Iraq and Syria.
Their intermediate goal is to have a unified Sunni state that covers the whole region including Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine and Israel.
Their long-term goal is to bring back a worldwide rule of Caliphates. They believe that they are mandated by the Quran to do so and use as much violence as needed to accomplish that goal.
They are much stronger than Al-Qaeda in numbers, unity, and finances. They have performed mass executions, even including women and children. They are so violent and brutal that Al-Qaeda looks conservative and moderate comparatively.
When in power, they will be the number one source of terrorism in the world.
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.
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.
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.