USA and Iran Partnering in Iraq? 5 questions answered – #2

This entry is part 2 of 5 in the series USA and Iran Partnering in Iraq?

2.  What is the difference between Shiites and Sunnis?

  1. Their differences go back to 632 AD when Mohammad died.

    Map showing distribution of Sunni (light green) and Shiite (dark green) Muslims
    Map showing distribution of Sunni (light green) and Shiite (dark green) Muslims
  2. The issue that divided them centered around whom must rule the Islamic Empire after the death of Mohammad.
  3. Sunnis believe that the Caliphs should rule, which is historically what happened.
  4. Shiites believe that the family bloodline of Mohammad should rule and the Caliphs were evil people who unrightfully took over the power after Mohammad.
  5. There are 1.6 billion Muslims in the world. 85% are Sunnis and 15% are Shiites. Shiites are the majority only in Iran and Iraq.

USA and Iran Partnering in Iraq? 5 questions answered – #1

This entry is part 1 of 5 in the series USA and Iran Partnering in Iraq?

Major events are happening in Iraq. They can have biblical significance regarding the prophecies for that region. Many Americans have asked me how the current events in Iraq are impacting Iran. Over the next several days, I will answer 5 questions, which I hope will help you better understand the situation.

ISIS Militants are terrorizing Iraq & Syria.
ISIS Militants are terrorizing Iraq & Syria.
  1.  What is happening in Iraq?
    1. A Sunni group called ISIS is trying to take over Iraq by force. They already have control of many cities in the north and east of Iraq.
    2. It is possible that Iraq as a country will cease to exist soon and divide into 3 countries: Shiite (south), Kurds (far north), Sunnis (north and west).
    3. Saddam was a Sunni and suppressed the Shiites, who are the majority in Iraq. The new government under Jalal Talabani is ruled by Shiites. It has fired top officials that were Sunnis and in general, have marginalized the minority Sunnis in Iraq. So Sunnis in Iraq have joined forces with Sunnis in Syria to topple the Shiite Iraqi government.

6 Young Iranians Arrested for Being “Happy”

In a recent video posted on YouTube that has gone viral, two universal truths concerning the state of Iran is beautifully illustrated simultaneously:

  1. The youth of Iran is vibrant, energetic, playful and longing for ways to express themselves…just like youth around the world.
  2. The government of Iran is bent on squashing any form of individualism and expression of free thought, regardless of how innocent it may be.

All told, six young people were arrested for making a playful video to the popular song, “Happy.”  Five have since been released, with the director of the video continuing to be imprisoned for his crimes.

Please join me in praying for the youth of Iran.  Pray that the Lord will use them to transform Iran into a Christian nation in this generation.  Pray that they will not lose heart, not lose hope and not lose their zeal for life in the midst of their dire circumstances.

Special Easter Greeting

No matter the trials or suffering that you – or your Christian brothers and sisters in Iran – may be going through today, know that new birth has given you a living hope. Hallelujah!
 
May you and your family be blessed this Easter. And I thank you for your prayers and partnership in sharing this Good News with so many others in Iran God bless you!

 

Persian New Year, Nowruz – Ending & Rebirth

Haft Sin on the Iran Alive Ministries (Network 7) set
Haft Sin on the Iran Alive Ministries (Network 7) set

Thursday March 20th, Iranians rang in the Persian New Year.  Nowruz, meaning “new day,”  always begins on the first day of spring. It represents two ancient symbolic concepts: Ending and Rebirth, or, more specifically, the ending of evil and rebirth of good.

Awaiting arrival of Nowruz, Iranians prepare the haft sin, or the seven ‘S’s. The haft sin sofreh includes seven items starting with the letter S:

  1. sabzeh – sprouts, symbolizing rebirth
  2. samanu –  a sweet pudding made from wheat germ symbolizing affluence
  3. senjed –  the dried fruit of the oleaster tree, symbolizing love
  4. siib –  apple, symbolizing beauty
  5. somaq – sumac, symbolizing sunrise
  6. serkeh – vinegar, symbolizing age and patience
  7. sombol –  hyacinth, to denote the coming of spring

For the remaining thirteen days of the New Year celebration, Iranians gather together and celebrate. Relatives come and visit the older members of the family and in return, the elders pay their respect by visiting them back. On the last day, as is the tradition, Iranians picnic in the suburbs, dance, sing, and play outside until the night forces them back to their homes.

The clerical establishment ruling Iran have long tried to stop Iranians from celebrating their long tradition of Nowruz. Even under though the people of Iran are under constant oppression, they have not given in and continue to be proud of their Persian heritage and cling to the hope of a fresh start.

Lets us pray that with this New Year that love will conquer hate and that the people of Iran will meet the only Source of true hope, Jesus.

Counting the Days

Sometimes simple statements make large impressions.  A few weeks ago, I received a brief email of encouragement from one of our Church 7 viewers inside Iran:

Hello Pastor Hormoz,

Today we participated in Church 7 with a few friends. Thank you so much for everything you do. Here in Iran, we count the days for the live Church broadcast.

Amir

Amir’s comments were short, but very sweet to me and our staff.  With no other option available to 97% of the believers inside of Iran, Satellite TV provides the only source of spiritual nourishment and encouragement for these hungry people.

Join me in praying for Amir and the hundreds of thousands of believers in Iran who live under the constant threat of persecution for their faith in Christ.  May the Lord grant them grace and mercy as they seek to know and follow Him.

From Depression to Hope

Our Counseling Center Ministry recently passed this email from one of our viewers to me.  I was greatly touched, as I know you will be, by the Lord’s great mercy and grace in the life of this young lady.  Here is the message:

Hello,

My name is Elizeh. I have a 16 year-old daughter who suffers from depression has often threatened us with committing suicide. As you can imagine, this has caused a great deal of concern for us.

We always watch the Church7 programs but my daughter would never pay any attention to them. One day, when we were watching the program, my daughter was not staring at the wall like she usually did, but she was actually listening. All of the sudden, she walked to the TV and placed her hand on it and started to cry out loud and said, “God I need you and I want to be your daughter!”  

The whole family was in tears. As Pastor Hormoz was praying the salvation pray, she repeated after him and gave her heart to Christ.

Ever since then, we have seen great joy in her face. God has given her back to us. I want to thank each and every one of you for the love that you show us through Church7. We pray that you will always stand firm in Christ.

Elizeh

May we see millions of Iranians experience the life transforming power that comes only through our Lord.  To Him alone be the glory!

*As with all of my posts, names and faces have been changed to protect the identities of those involved.

Transforming the Masses by Reaching a Few

Without question, Satellite TV is a tremendous vehicle for reaching vast numbers of people with the saving Message of the Gospel.  In Iran, it is the safest, most effective and efficient method of reaching millions of people who are hungry for hope.

We believe that a conservative estimate of viewers of our network to be between 3 million and 6 million people inside Iran at any given time.  When you consider that there are around 1 million believers in Iran, the overwhelming majority of our viewers are Muslims who are seeking and not yet followers of Christ.  Many of these people are high-ranking government officials, top businessmen and key politicians who are looking for hope themselves.

Recently, one of these men called our Counseling Center Ministry to tell of his experience watching our programming.  Watch the video to hear his story and learn more about our 2-fold strategy.

“What do You Want with a Bible?”

Just yesterday, a woman called in to our live broadcast into Iran and talked with me on air for about 10 minutes.  The topic of the program was Being the Light of Christ in Your Work Environment.Bible in Chains

Convicted by the challenge to operate in the work environment as salt and light to those around her, without engaging in dishonest practices common in the professional climate, this businesswoman began to share her struggles with the tension of her “Work” persona, and her “Christian” identity.

As we worked through this complex issue, I asked her how she became attracted to Christ in the first place.  Her answer, while not uncommon, encouraged and astonished me nonetheless.

Realizing that Islam only instills hopelessness and fear in people, she began a search for something else.  She knew that if there was a God, He simply could not be like the distant, uncaring God she knew from Islam.

After trying Zoroastrianism, an ancient Persian religion based on pantheistic beliefs, she decided to look for a Bible.  If you know anything about Iran and the government restrictions surrounding any non-Muslim religious activity, you understand that finding a Bible is a difficult and dangerous task.

She decided to try a small bookstore.  Cautiously and with much fear, she quietly asked the owner if he happened to know where she might be able to find a small Bible.

Shocked, the owner looked around the store and waited until no one else was around and asked, “What do you want with a Bible?”

She explained that she wanted to find out more about Jesus and didn’t know where else to look.  Disappearing to the back of the shop for a few moments, the owner returned and said, “I have one.”  He handed her the Bible and within days, she was transformed into a Follower of Christ!

My staff is working to translate the video, which I will post so that you can see firsthand, this amazing testimony.

God is about the business of transforming Iran into a Christian nation in this generation!  What a privilege to see it happen before our very eyes.

Hello Blogging World!

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!

Shariat Family