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.

Iran’s Nuclear Agreement: A Good Deal or a Bad Deal?

John Kerry & Javad Zarif
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad-Javad Zarif at a recent meeting

Iran will temporarily halt parts of its nuclear program and allow for more inspection; in return, the West will provide immediate relief from some of the sanctions and will impose no new sanctions for six months.

Last week’s nuclear agreement between Iran and the western powers was historical.  To some, it may even seem to be a breakthrough given the tenuous relationships shared by Iran and the West. However, reading the news is confusing as some news articles report that it was a “total victory and a great step forward,” while others surmised, “it was a total failure.”

So which is it?  Was it a good deal or a bad deal? The answer depends on the perspective from which the deal is evaluated. Below, I look at this deal and make evaluations of my own, considering 5 unique perspectives from those who will be impacted most deeply.

It was a bad deal for Israel and the Gulf countries

  1. Since 1979, Israel and the Gulf countries such as Saudi Arabia and Emirates have been afraid of Iran. Countries in the region such as Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria have watched Iran aggressively increase its influence. They feel that a nuclear-armed Iran will pose a serious danger to their respected national security. They also believe that Iran will at least use its nuclear arsenal to bully them and the rest of its neighbors. Iran is already doing that now, but with a nuclear bomb, its bullying and meddling in the affairs of other countries in the region will increase dramatically.  This new deal does not remove the danger to Israel and Gulf countries, but increases it exponentially.
  2. Netanyahu has called this deal “a historic mistake” and has stated, “it turns the world into a much scarier place.” For the first time Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries are agreeing with Israel.

It was a bad deal for the US and President Obama’s credibility

  1. It damaged the US’s relationship with Israel and important allies such as Saudi Arabia.
  2. Some have called it a “fool’s deal” as it seems that the West has agreed to an immediate action, (removing some of the sanctions, stopping the addition of new sanctions, and releasing 7 billion dollars of Iranian assets), in return for unverifiable promises in the future.

It was a good deal for the government of Iran

  1. As Obama is under fire and trying to defend the deal in the US, the government of Iran is celebrating their perceived victory.
  2. Iran got money and time to continue its nuclear program with little more commitment than a promise to not build new centrifuges in the next 6 months. The deal, however, left the nuclear infrastructure intact. Iran now has the money to do what it wants to continue with its nuclear program plans and goals.
  3. This deal helps Iran to prepare better for possible future sanctions. So even if new sanctions are imposed in 6 months, it will not have as much impact as it could have.
  4. Iran knows that President Obama does not want to go to war, which puts the US in a weaker position. Iran has been declaring that they are not afraid to go to war and that they are ready for it. They feel they have caused Obama to blink and agree to a favorable deal for their purposes.

It was a good deal for the lives of people in Iran (physically)

  1. It has an immediate impact in increasing the value of Iranian currency (more purchasing power)
  2. It seems to postpone the possibility of war. The possible attack on Iran, when it happens, will bring much suffering to the people of Iran and will take the lives of so many innocent Christian and Muslim people.
  3. This deal takes away the fear of imminent attack on Iran which has put stress in the hearts of the ordinary citizens of Iran for the last two years. People of Iran will live in less fear for at least the next six months.
  4. The people of Iran are happy about this deal because it gives them temporary relief. All the Iranians that I have talked to are convinced that the Iranian government deceived the West to get this deal and soon will find out that this was a deception and reinstate the strict sanctions and threats of military attacks. When I ask them what they think about this deal, many just laugh and say, “Americans are so naïve.”

It was a bad deal: for the lives of people in Iran (spiritually)

  1. This deal gives the people of Iran a false hope. They have been open spiritually because they have been living in fear and hopelessness for so many years. This new deal gives them a false hope and reduces their fear. This may cause them to be less open spiritually.
  2. It distracts them. They feel they have 6 months to secure themselves and prepare for the hardship that is coming. They will be busy making money and spending it for an unknown and unstable future. This can distract them from spiritual pursuit.

Join me in praying:

That the Lord will postpone the war and give the people of Iran a chance to know Him.

That the people of Iran will not invest in a false hope, but that their hopelessness will lead them to the true source of eternal hope: Jesus Christ.

Persians Love Americans

This entry is part 2 of 5 in the series 5 Things You Didn't Know about Iran

ImageMy 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.