Last summer I said that the nuclear deal gave the Islamic government of Iran a lifeline. I predicted that the money would be used to (1) oppress the people of Iran more and (2) persecute the Iranian Christians outside Iran, including Iran Alive.
In the last few weeks there have been several news stories about the government of Iran starting two new organizations:
1) They have created a “non-visible” police. These are 7,000 undercover, plain-clothed agents who will mingle with people and have full authority to arrest anybody who does not follow Islamic law or who criticizes the regime. The government made this program public because they want to put fear in the hearts of the people. They know this program will make Iranians afraid of each other and afraid of sharing anything in public with anybody they do not know because that person could be an agent.
The undercover police are one way the government is increasing its oppression of the people, by making them afraid even to talk with each other. This will make public witnessing even more dangerous to Christians. Please pray that members of our many underground churches will continue to be bold to share their faith despite the danger.
2) They have created a new organization to stop and destroy their “opponents” outside Iran. The goal of this organization is to do whatever it takes to annihilate any activities outside Iran that could threaten the existence of the Islamic government of Iran. The fact is that there is currently no movement inside or outside of Iran strong enough to threaten the future of the current regime, except one: the growth of Christianity and its underground house churches.
The government has destroyed their political opposition rather successfully inside and outside Iran. The only opposition they feel is out of control is the Christians with their fast growing numbers and house churches. Iran’s leaders are well aware of the impact outside Christian organizations such as Iran Alive have on the masses inside Iran. So the number one goal of this new organization is to stop or slow down activities of Iranian Christian organizations outside Iran.
They are publicizing this program widely to put fear in hearts of Iranian Christians worldwide. They may even murder some of them as they have done in the past, to tell us all that they are serious. We desperately need prayer covering for Iran Alive and myself as the threats against us are increasing in number and seriousness.
A Threat with a Silver Lining
These moves by the Iranian government and the police of Tehran are a serious threat not only to Iranian women, whom much of the media has been most concerned about due to the dress code laws, but also to Christians inside and outside Iran who are willing to die on behalf of Jesus to share His love with others there.
But we can take comfort in the fact that the government felt compelled to initiate these organizations. It shows that they know they are losing—or have lost—the backing of the people. Most of the nation, especially the young people, does not want this government, or its policies, or the Islamic faith it adheres to. Many have taken to social media to protest the new policies.
We believe as the government increases its persecution of Christians, the number of Iranian Muslims coming to Christ will also increase—as well as their strength in faith and commitment. The Islamic government of Iran is on a losing spiral.
Let’s pray for the persecuted Church in Iran, and let’s do whatever we can to add fuel to the fire of revival that the Lord has started there.
In my last post, I showed how ISIS is causing Muslims to question their faith. At the core of their questioning, they must decide who the true Muslims are—themselves or the brutal members of ISIS.
Many people around the world are asking, “Are the members of ISIS true Muslims or merely terrorists seeking religious legitimacy?”
President Obama has repeatedly stated that the religion of violent extremists savaging Iraq and Syria is irrelevant. Many have criticized him for refusing to call ISIS Islamic terrorists. But he insists, “We are not at war with Islam. We are at war with people who have perverted Islam.”
Yet ISIS unashamedly claims that they are true and great Muslims.
So who is the true Muslim?
If we ask this question about Christianity, isn’t it logical to say whoever most closely follows the teaching of Jesus and His example is the most true Christian? The definition of a good Christian is not subjective, but comes from solid criteria. Whichever people follow the example of their holy book and their leader, they are the better adherents to that faith.
This same criteria will tell us who is a good Muslim: the one who lives out the teaching of the Quran and follows the example of Mohammed more closely.
Using that objective criteria, we must conclude that the members of ISIS are very good Muslims. What they are doing is based on numerous Quranic verses and the practices of the Prophet Mohammad. Yes, indeed they are following Islam more closely than “Moderate Muslims” who ignore those call-to-violence verses in the Quran, and downplay their own historical record of what Prophet Mohammad did.
ISIS is challenging all Muslims to have another look at their faith. Many Muslims are taking up that challenge, looking at the Quran more objectively, and coming to the conclusion that the root of their problem is not ISIS but Islam itself.
What ISIS is doing to Sunni Muslims, the Islamic Republic of Iran has done to Shiite Muslims in Iran. After over 35 years of Islamic rule, Iranian Muslims have come to the conclusion that the root of their problems is not political but spiritual. They vast majority have come to believe that the problem is not with the Islamic government but with Islam itself.
Please pray for the many Muslims that are seeking refuge—physically and spiritually—from the ravages of the Islamic world. They are open and ready for the Gospel. Pray that the Church and the nations will be open to them. Let’s pray that all of us be free from fear and hatred towards Muslims, and instead, be filled with God’s immense love for them.
And pray for the hundreds of thousands of Muslim-background believers in Iran. Through Iran Alive Ministries, I have seen multitudes of Muslims in Iran seek refuge in Jesus. They are repulsed by the violence and hatred and are attracted to the love, joy, and peace that Jesus offers. Coming from darkness, they value the light even more. They value their new faith in Jesus so much that they are ready to live and die for Him. And they are closely living out His example, enduring persecution with humility and honor, loving their enemies, and spreading the Kingdom of God.
Join me in supporting these true Christians.
A mother finds her young daughter alive after a bombing and kidnapping at the school. She decides to flee Syria that very hour.
A father waits in line every day to cross through a government-controlled area to his family. Every day he watches the soldiers shoot three or four people in the line, not knowing if today will be his turn to die.
As millions of refugees pour out of Syria and Iraq, ISIS is helping the cause of Christ. Muslims fleeing to neighboring countries and the European Union are converting to Christianity at a high rate. Why is this so?
This week and next, we will ask two questions about ISIS:
- How is ISIS pushing Muslims away from Islam?
- Are members of ISIS true Muslims or not?
Last year I predicted, “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 exactly what has been happening.
Workers in refugee camps tell me that amid the suffering and anxiety, Muslims are becoming open to the message of Christ. Now as refugees pour over the borders, we are seeing many more flee not only their countries but also their Islamic faith. Hundreds of Muslims seeking asylum in Germany are choosing to follow Jesus. One church in Berlin welcomed 450 new members in a short time. They believe; they are baptized; they hope.
How is ISIS pushing Muslims away from Islam?
Refugees are escaping Iraq and Syria, both countries torn by civil war that pits one Muslim against another. More than half the 22 million Syrians have been forced to leave their homes. Everywhere, houses are destroyed by ISIS or President Assad’s Shiite government, security forces harass civilians, and armed militants bomb and attack. In Iraq, ISIS is threatening the takeover of the whole country. The people are hurting, and they believe rightly that it is the Islamic practices of ISIS that are hurting them.
The brutality of ISIS is causing Muslims to question their faith. We must understand, this questioning is a major spiritual breakthrough for any Muslim. Jesus commands us to seek and ask, and Paul commends Bereans for questioning his teachings. But, in Islam, questioning your faith is not allowed. Those who question Islam are often shunned as infidels and are punished—sometimes with lashes. So when a Muslim comes to a point in his/her spiritual journey to start asking questions, he has already taken steps towards spiritual freedom. So their suffering in the hands of ISIS causes them to ask, “What is true Islam?” Then after looking at Islam objectively, they come to conclusion that the problem is not just with ISIS, but there is something fundamentally wrong with Islam itself. That along with the love and support they receive from Christians causes a large number of them embrace Christianity.
In my next blog, we will look at the question “Are the followers of ISIS good Muslims?”
The answer may shock you.