- How will the U.S. withdrawal from the Iran deal, and the reinstatement of sanctions, affect Christians in Iran and the geopolitical landscape of the Middle East? How will Israel be affected?
That decision will impact Iranians in two areas: economical and political. The unilateral sanction by the United States will not have much effect economically because Iran has no trade agreement with the US anyway. So, it all depends on if Russia, China, and European countries would reinstate their sanctions or not. Those countries, however, are not willing to do that because they have developed strong economic ties with Iran since the passing of the nuclear deal in 2015. If US can pressure those allies to reinstate the sanctions, then the impact on Iran will be great in many ways.
a. The impact on the Islamic Government: the sanctions will put much pressure on the government of Iran by drastically reducing its income. Currently, the government is struggling to pay its works. Therefore, the sanctions could cause a change of regime in Iran.
b. The impact on the people of Iran: It will impact the lives of the people of Iran negatively. They are currently suffering economically anyway. The recent unrest since December 2017 is because their lives have not improved since 2015 when the sanctions were removed when the Obama administration released $150 Billion. The removal of sanctions and increase in the national income did not help the people of Iran. The government has used that money to enrich their bank accounts, oppress the people, and advance its political agenda in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Yemen. So shockingly, many people in Iran are saying: If these sanctions will bring down the government then we are for it and are willing to suffer for it.
c. The impact on Christians: There will be less persecution. The current unrest in Iran and economic pressure caused by sanctions will distract the government from persecuting Christians. They will be facing bigger challenges than the growth of Christianity. The persecution will not stop but will not be as widespread as in the past.
d. The impact on Israel: The government of Iran is scrambling for survival. One major way to help its survival is to develop nuclear bombs. So, to ensure its future, the Islamic government will speed up its development of the nuclear bomb. It will move its missile launchers to the south of Iran to get closer to Israel. It is very likely that the war prophecies of Jeremiah 49:35-37 will be fulfilled when Israel and US with the coalition of other countries attack south of Iran called Elam to destroy missile launchers, nuclear sites, and even oil production facilities.
The economic impact of the sanctions may or may not be felt for the months to come, but the political impact of Trump’s decision could be immediate. By opting out of the nuclear deal, US and Israel now have a new freedom to attack the nuclear and missiles sites in Iran. That is an immediate danger and the people of Iran are very nervous. Of course, they want a regime change but not through a war.
- What are some concerns about these events that Christians in the United States can pray for?
From the spiritual point of view, the current situation in Iran is a perfect storm for the growth of Christianity. For the last 40 years, the Islamic government has shown the true face of Islam to its people. Iranians by millions have rejected Islam and are open to the message of the Gospel. The current oppression and hopelessness have caused Iranian Muslims to consider the option of becoming Christians seriously. So I am not sure praying for a regime change is a good idea. Instead, let’s pray for the following:
a. Pray for over 400 Christians who are in jail. Pray that they will have encounters with Jesus and will be strengthened by the Holy Spirit so that they will be witnesses to other prisoners as well as to their persecutors. The government’s strategy for persecution is not to arrest great number of Christians. They have a strategy of fear and isolation. They arrest a few but give them long jail sentences for smallest offense such as witnessing or gathering in their homes. These 400 Christians have been treated unfairly and need our prayers.
b. Pray for over 3 million of Muslims background believers who are prisoners in their home. They are fearful and isolated. Their only source of encouragement, support and teaching is through media such as satellite TV and social media such as what Iran Alive provides 24/7.
c. Pray for the underground churches in Iran. There are not many of them, but the government is set to destroy them. It is estimated that less than 5% of Christians in Iran are connected to a church of any kind (about 100,000 Christians) the other 95% have no church. Pray that Iran Alive will be able to provide for the needs of these Christians in the privacy of their homes.
- Can you share some highlights from Iran Alive Ministries, and tell us more about partnerships between Iranian Christians and Jewish believers?
God has graciously positioned Iran Alive Ministries (IAM) to have a tangible impact in Iran for the Gospel. We have been broadcasting satellite TV into Iran since 2001. Hundreds of thousands of Muslims have come to Christ through us and hundreds of house churches have been planted. Our current focus is to teach, train, encourage, connect and mobilize the current 3 million Christians so that they will be agents of transformation for Iran. We believe by doing this, not just Iran but the whole Middle East will be impacted.
One mission of IAM is to help Muslim background believers become free from any kind of hatred and animosity towards any people group and nation–especially the Jewish people. We don’t get involved in the political side of the issues. Therefore, we do not condone or condemn the political decisions of the Israeli government. However, we teach Iranian believers:
a. God loves all nations and so should we. We must love the Jewish people, want His best for them, serve them, and share the Gospel with them.
b. God has a special plan for the Jewish people and the nation of Israel. God loves all people. But as He has different plans for different people, He also has different plans for different nations. Just as He has a special plan for Iran as declared in Jeremiah 49:34-38, He also has a very special plan for the future of Israel.
- How do Iranian Muslim converts view Israel and Jewish believers in Jesus?
There is such a disconnect between the people of Iran and their government that when the government puts on rallies shouting, “Death to Israel,” the people of Iran say “We don’t trust you. Why should we hate Israel?” So, once they become Christians, it is not hard to help them get rid of that hatred and animosity.
At Iran Alive, we feel a part of our call is to turn the enemies of Israel into its friends. We believe Iran has a major part in the fulfillment of Romans 11:11 to bring the Jewish people to jealousy. We believe once the Jewish people see how the Lord Jesus has changed the hearts of their Iranian arch enemies who wanted to wipe Israel off the map into people who love them, they will become open to the Gospel in unprecedented ways.
Even now, there is a continuous flow of Iranian Muslim background Christians who travel to Israel for prayer and ministry. There are a growing number of Iranian Christians who feel called to serve the Jewish people and minister to them. There is even a Muslim background Christian pastor in Jerusalem who has planted a church there.
We at Iran Alive invite the Jewish believers to partner with us to take advantage of this historic opportunity to transform Iran into a Christian nation. Let’s work together to help Christianity grow strong in Iran—after all, that is one of the best things you can do for Israel.