Date: March 8, 2018
Iran (MNN) – All over the world, the Persecuted Church presents a paradox. It seems that the heaviest attempts to eradicate Christianity actually cause faith to deepen and the Gospel to spread more urgently. This is the case in Iran.
Today, Iran is known as the fastest growing Church. But here too, persecution is constant. Iran is number 10 on the World Watch List by Open Doors USA. This list ranks the top 50 nations where Christian persecution is the worst. According to this list, only 800,000 or so of the 80 million plus people of Iran are Christians. Their biggest foe is Islamic oppression.
Muslims who convert to Christianity face great danger. While the law says the penalty of conversion is death, they usually don’t face capital punishment. However, there may be retaliation from their friends, families, and neighbors. If not violence, outright rejection. And so many believers live in silence, and churches exist underground.
Reuters recently reported that there’s been an uptick in discrimination against groups like religious minorities and women. December protests against the Iranian government led to 20 deaths and 450 arrests. Iran is not a place where you can express your opinion unless it goes along with the majority.
This makes ministry in Iran particularly difficult. So, what can be done?
Through Mohabat TV, Heart4Iran is reaching out with Gospel content not only to Iran, but two other Farsi-speaking nations on the World Watch List: Afghanistan (2), and Tajikistan (22). Social media and satellite TV are both viable methods to reach out to isolated believers and people looking for hope in an increasingly dark environment.
Dr. Mike Ansari, president of Heart4Iran says, “For the past 11 years, we’ve been reaching the Muslims of Iran, Tajikistan, and Afghanistan…. God is very much alive in [the] Middle East, working among Muslims. And we’ve just been very honored to see a lot of fellow brothers and sisters that were Muslims come to Christ and just give their hearts to Jesus.”
Last week, Mohabat TV was presented with the 2018 NRB International Impact Award, which recognizes the role this ministry has played in bringing the hope of the Gospel to the Middle East.
Ansari explains that while they’re primarily focused on Iran, partnerships with other ministries broaden their reach to other Farsi speakers around the world.
“We work with a lot of other ministries that are not necessarily indigenous ministries. These are not necessarily Iranian ministries. These are ministries that have a global vision—[the] Great Commission is part of their vision, to reach out [to] the nations.”
These partnerships have been incredibly fruitful for the Kingdom of God. In fact, Ansari says, “Through this collaboration, through this partnership, which right now is about 86 ministries, we are receiving about 700 contacts a day from the Muslim world, asking us about who Jesus is, part of which, every day, about 93 people make a decision to follow Christ.”
Do you want to be a part of making a real impact in Iran and beyond? Start with prayer.
“Please pray for wisdom, pray for God’s anointing, and pray for provisions. As you know, in ministry it’s a beautiful thing—a wonderful encouragement—to receive an award. But much like other ministers, usually for every two steps you go forward, you have three steps backwards. There are always challenges, there’s a lot of spiritual warfare.”