‘Jesus went through all the towns and villages - preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness.’ Matthew 9:35
Despite massive urbanisation, still 38% of Iran’s 70 million population live in the country’s 68,000 villages. Some are barely hamlets, while others are quite sizeable with up to 5,000 living in them.
To the tourist these villages can seem almost idyllic. You will see the shepherd strolling on the hills with his flock of sheep; old men sitting in the streets making shoes or a handicraft; a small group of school children dressed in a simple uniform returning home.
But behind this seeming tranquility, there are painful problems. There is wide-spread poverty, high unemployment, and very little proper health-care. In the 1960’s the Shah gave a lot of land to the villages, but this led to subsistence farming as the economies of scale were too small. Then in the 1970’s and 1980’s, manufacturing and the construction industry in towns and cities began to boom and there was a mass exodus from rural areas as young people went in search of work. Though both Ayatollah Khomeini and now President Ahmadinejad have made promises to inject economic life into these villages, little has actually happened.
So though many people still live in rural areas, they are usually the elderly, often having to care for themselves. If there are some young people, most are unemployed and many have turned to opium or heroin to escape the monotony of life, because there is little else for entertainment.
Iran’s villages are full of vulnerable people – just the sort that Jesus ministered to as he went from village to village. They are the most unreached people in the world. Thousands of them will not be able to have an internet connection or a satellite dish – they will only hear the Gospel if someone goes and tells them. So today let us with a loud voice intercede for the villages of Iran:
- Pray that the Lord will raise up labourers who will follow in the footsteps of the Master and go and preach the Gospel in the villages. Pray they will be able to bring practical help to those who are suffering.
- Pray for young people who have left the villages to work in cities. Pray they will hear the Gospel in the city and return to preach.
- Pray that the light of the Gospel will dispel the deep rooted superstition in rural areas which holds people in darkness and controls many lives. Pray that fear and worry will be replaced by the liberating joy of the Lord.
- Pray especially for the headmen and the Mullahs of the villages who have a lot of influence. Pray that they will see the light of glory of Christ and that whole villages will turn to Him.
Once again, we are so thankful for your prayers.