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.

Our God is Not a God of Depression!

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“Our God is not a God of depression, but He is the God of joy!” —Bahar (name changed to protect identity)

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.

Bahar

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.

Transformed by God’s Word

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“Thank you for teaching God’s Word to me. I am grateful for you all.” —Amir

Recently, I received a touching email from one of our Church 7 members via our Counseling Center Ministry. God is penetrating the hearts of Iranians unlike any other time in history. Amir is being transformed through hearing God’s Word and applying it’s teachings to his life. Here is what he wrote to me:

Dear Pastor Hormoz,

I would like to share a testimony regarding the topic of the Samaritan woman, which you have been preaching about for the past few weeks.

I always tried to have a good relationship with my family and others, but it had been so difficult for me and I prefer to be alone because these relationships have caused me so much sadness and stress in the past.

When I heard the sermon, Christ met me like He met the Samaritan woman and changed my life. I now love to meet new people, spend time with my family and I even love my enemies. It is so strange, but I do not feel like I did before and I am not upset with anyone anymore.

I have a joy that comes from the inside and I like to transfer this joy to others. I really receive more than I give and I enjoy these relationships with people in ways that I never thought I could. Now I understand what life is really all about.

Thank you for teaching God’s Word to me. I am grateful for you all.

Amir

Please join me in continuing to pray that millions of Iranians will be transformed by the Word of God, just like Amir!

“We Are No Longer Orphans”

Although illegal to own, satellite dishes are pervasive inside Iran
Although illegal to own, satellite dishes are pervasive inside Iran

As you know from reading my previous posts, there are no above ground churches inside Iran.  Until a few months ago, there was actually one building church, the Central Church of Iran, that was allowed to exist.  It was highly regulated and everyone who walked in the door was registered with the government.  Many of them were harassed and persecuted as a result, even though the church was allowed to exist.

It too has been closed, leaving every Christian in the country with the choice of finding an underground house church, or plugging in to Church 7, our global satellite Church for Iran.  You can read more about this strategy in my post, “Our House Was Converted into a Church”.

Below, I have copied an email we just received from a Church 7 member, whose family found themselves orphaned after the Central Church of Iran closed it’s doors.  I know you will find it encouraging.  There is no doubt the Lord is using Satellite TV to transform Iran into a Christian nation in this generation.

Hello,

My name is Amir and I am a member of Church 7. Through this letter, I want to thank you for not leaving us alone. You provide food for us who are alone in Iran.

My wife and I always cancel our plans on Friday nights in order to participate in Church 7. Sometimes we even invite friends to come to Church with us by telling people that Church has not been closed after all. We record all of Church 7 programs and when we gather with our friends, we watch them and worship together.

The Lord has been faithful, just as he promised, and has not left us alone. Even after the closing of the Central Church of Iran, of which we were members, we have not become orphans. We have a Church to go to, where we worship and receive our teachings.

I want you to know that we love you all and to let you know that for us, your programs are a living hope.

Amir

“We Need You Guys!”

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A family watching satellite TV

One of the ministers in our Counseling Center Ministry gave me this note of encouragement from a Church 7 member/viewer inside Iran. I think you will find it encouraging as well. It beautifully illustrates the openness of the people of Iran to the Gospel and their distrust of Islam.

My name is Mahmoud (name changed for security) and I am contacting you from Iran. I am a member of Church 7 and love you all.

My friends an I used to attend the prayer meetings held by the Mullahs. They would always say bad things and curse at Christians, Jews and other religions. They always thought that they were better then everyone else. You guys are different than the Mullahs here.  You are full of love and kindness. I wish that everyone here was more like you.

When I watch the Church 7 programs, I see that you guys even pray for your enemies. This is very touching and it caused me to feel a change in my spirit. I am so happy that I have found Jesus and know that I will be living with God the rest of my days.

I pray for all of you. Continue doing what you do because we need you guys!

“Our House Was Converted into a Church”

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.

Our Team Praying on the Set of Church 7
Our team praying on the set of Church 7

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.
 
His grace be with you now and for ever.

 

A Life Transformed: Roghiyeh’s Redemption

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 has the Fastest Growing Evangelical Population on the Planet!

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

Take a moment to let that sink in.

Operation World Chart of the Fastest Growing Evangelical Nations - 2010
Iran has the fastest growing Evangelical Christian population. Operation World, 2010.

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.