‘The best three weeks of my life were spent in Iran in 1973’ - an elderly American lady sharing recently with an Iranian Christian leader.
Years ago when the former Shah of Iran had opened up the Iranian domestic markets to western products and was encouraging consumerism, when tourists were returning home from the sunny beaches of the Caspian Sea to narrate their tales of Arabian Nights, and when foreign missionaries were amazed at the level of freedom they were given in an Islamic country, it was very easy to love Iran.
But after 1979 it all suddenly changed. On the news bulletins of the western media there appeared images of young bearded Muslims brandishing Kalashnikovs and shouting "Death to America!" Pictures of Iran’s serene beaches and welcoming coastal cities gave way to images of American hostages, war-ravaged cities, and Ayatollahs calling for the destruction of Israel and America. Iran became synonymous with terrorism, religious fanaticism, and more recently, with nuclear bombs.
Iranians quickly lost the respect they once enjoyed in the world, and anyone holding an Iranian passport was viewed with great suspicion. Soon even the Christian world was convinced Iran is a closed country. After all, it was a country where the government had closed down the Bible Society, arrested and killed Christian leaders, and were discriminating against Christians. Most missionary organizations and donors were happy to dedicate their resources to other parts of the world, but Iran was out of the question.
Yet Iranians today are more open to the Gospel than they were before the revolution. After years of war and fighting and hatred, Iranians, most of whom were never even born when the revolution started, feel deceived and let down by those who were promising an Islamic utopia, and are craving for alternatives. And when they see the love of Christ as exhibited by Christians in their midst, they sense the difference immediately and are drawn to it like a magnet.
Paul says that the only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. With this in mind let us go before our loving Father:
- Pray that God would convict the global church to reach out to Iranians in faith and love so that they can taste and see that the Lord is good. Pray that fear and negative perceptions about Iran will be replaced with God’s deep love and concern for the people.
- Pray that both Iranian and non-Iranian Christians and churches will practically demonstrate their love for Iran by devoting adequate resources for mission to Iran.
- Pray that Christ’s love will compel Christians around the world to reach out to Iranians in their communities. Pray that God would give them passion, boldness and wisdom to share the Gospel with individuals and families and win them for Christ.
Thank you so much for praying.