It used to take me weeks or months working with Persians who were interested in Christianity to convince them to choose Christ. For the older generations, the spirit of Islam lay heavy on them, a blindfold on their minds that prevented them from grasping the Gospel, truth, or often even logic. Fear of Islam and fear of the government would paralyze them.
But young people in Iran are now so open to Christ. The generation in their early twenties and younger often call or write to say, “I was watching your satellite TV program, and something in me said I need Jesus, and I’m ready.” No questions about Islam and Christianity. No fear of Islam or the government. Just, they are ready to choose Christ.
Why is this happening now? What is the change? Let me offer five reasons based on the regular testimony we receive from Iran’s young people.
- The depth of hopelessness is immense.
Young people under 25 look at their older siblings who have worked so hard to earn bachelor degrees, master degrees, and even PhDs and see that they are miserable. War and decades of harsh rule and sanctions have caused those in their thirties to early forties to name themselves the “Burnt Generation.” They can’t find jobs, they can’t afford to get married, and they have no future. So the younger generation says that even if we work hard, that’s our future. Life is empty.
- Sex and drugs have become normalized in the youth culture.
With no future or greater purpose to live for, young people even as young as 12 and 13 fill the void with promiscuous sex and drugs. In the larger cities, this destructive lifestyle has become so normalized among the youth that if a young person avoids these “fixes” for their hopelessness, they are considered weird and are ostracized.
- The spirit of fear has lifted from them.
While it is true that the Islamic government of Iran forbids such partying, the news media regularly report arrests of young people taking part in these activities. Unlike their parents and older siblings, who fear the consequences of such actions, the younger Persians assume that partying is the only pleasure they have.
They don’t care what the consequences are; they are not really afraid of the government. They say, “Kill me, kill me. I’m dead anyway.”
They aren’t afraid of Islam or Allah. They have rejected all religions and wanted secularism; they want to be like Americans.
- They discover that Christianity has a loving and forgiving God.
Yes, the drive toward secularism can become a challenge for sharing the Gospel. But these young people reject all religions because they assume that Christianity is just like Islam—or worse. So from just one broadcast on our Iran Alive satellite network, Network 7, they begin to see that Christianity is not what they thought before. The program speaks to what is in their hearts: that if there is a God, He is a loving and forgiving God.
Suddenly, they realize this Jesus is exactly what they need. They want Him, and they taste the hope He can give them. Now their lack of fear for the government and their understanding that they were “dead” in their life before Jesus becomes a huge positive for following Jesus. They are ready to live and die for Christ. The depth of their commitment frequently brings me to tears when we talk. We have to remind them to be careful so they can live and minister as long as they can!
As disciples, these young believers are ready to listen and be corrected. Unlike their parents, who would be offended by direct correction, the young people love straight talk. They become soldiers for Jesus, ready to run for the Lord.
- Jesus is moving in Iran, testifying about Himself through dreams and visions.
More than anything else, young people are choosing Christ because He is choosing them. We regularly receive testimonies from those to whom Jesus has appeared in a dream or vision. God is moving in Iran, according to His promise Jeremiah 49:38, “I will set my throne in Elam (Iran).”
This generation is so ready, so desperate. Give them a vision, give them a goal, and they will run with it.
We have in this current time an amazing opportunity to reach out and raise an entire generation of soldiers for Christ. I am grieved because time is passing, and we are merely harvesting the edges of a vast, ripe field. Many contact us weekly, and we cannot disciple them all in a meaningful way due to limited resources. We have to take in a few, and leave the rest outside the door.
Would you consider praying and thanking God for these young people? Would you consider joining in our efforts to give the youth in Iran hope in Christ and to transform Iran in this generation? You can find out more about our ministry through this link.
Only days ago, we received the following email from a viewer inside Iran. What struck me deeply, was her proclamation, “Our God is not a God of depression, but He is the God of joy!” To you and I, this may seem like a sweet, but logical conclusion that any Believer would make. I want you to know that this is nothing short of miraculous coming from a former Muslim… particularly a woman!
Depression and suicide are pandemic in Iran, especially among women who have virtually no value in an Islamic Theocracy where they are treated with disdain and cruelty. For Bahar (name changed to protect her identity) to draw this conclusion and embrace the identity of a valued daughter of the living God is one of the most tangible evidences we see of life transformation.
Here is her email:
Hello Dear ones,
I thank God for all of you at Network 7 for walking with the strength of the Lord. There is one thing that gives me a lot strength and it is that all of you always have smiles on your faces and are joyful.
I have decided to walk with the strength and joy of the Lord this week and receive my strength from Him. I want to claim the truth as to what an incredible God I have and what amazing things He is doing for me. I have come to know that our God is not a God of depression, but He is the God of joy and wants His children to live peace and joy! You prayed a prayer a few weeks ago and said that God cares about our tears and collects them with His hands. This strengthened me and made me realize that God is next to me, which I do not take it for granted. I proclaim that my God is a living God and close to me.
I felt like I should email this to you and tell you that I love you guys so much.
May the joy of the Lord be with you.
Please join me in praying for Bahar to be joined by millions of other Persian women who will encounter the living hope found only in Christ and find their value in the finished work of the cross for them.