5. Will the US and Iran partner in Iraq to stop ISIS?
Both have similar interests: to help the current Shiite Government of Iraq maintain control and stop the Sunni ISIS from taking over Iraq.
They may partner in some ways to help stop ISIS but will never acknowledge it publicly.
Iran has a major influence in Iraq where the majority of the population is Shiites and the government is led by Shiites.
Iran’s goal has been to get the US out of Iraq and be the sole influencer of the Shiite Iraqi regime. They are happy that the US has pulled out of Iraq and do not want to see the US’s influence and presence increase. Therefore, they may work with the US for the short time but will want the US out of Iraq as soon as ISIS is stopped.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.” —Acts 2:1-13
As we read Luke’s account of the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2, something amazing occurs, which may not jump off the page to you at first. As the Holy Spirit descends on the Apostles and their followers, giving them the ability to speak in each other’s languages, the multitude around them was bewildered by what they were witnessing. Recognizing that these men were from various regions, each with it’s own language, they were amazed to hear them speaking to each other in their non-native language.
Luke goes on to record their astonishment by quoting the list of nations present. Notice the first three mentioned; Parthians and Medes and Elamites. All of these are people groups were from Persia…known today as Iran!
Actually, Iran has a significant presence in Scripture, which I will unpack in future posts.