Israeli warplanes hit Hamas targets in Gaza….tensions rising….Ynet reports, “Week after two soldiers killed near Israel-Gaza border and few hours after Qassam hits south Israel, witnesses say IAF carried out at least five missile attacks on various targets; no immediate reports of casualties”….developing….
All eyes are currently on Iran and Israel. As the Iranian people just celebrated the Persian new year, President Ahmadinejad marked the celebration by urging Muslims to prepare for the coming of the Twelfth Imam and the annihilation of Israel. Western leaders are preparing to impose economic sanctions on Iran as early as next month in hopes of stopping the ayatollahs from building the Bomb, but it may be too late. A new CIA report indicates Iran already has the capacity to build nuclear weapons. Some experts say a cataclysmic war in the region between Iran and Israel, and possibly others, is inevitable. I hope not, but tensions are growing and the stakes are very high.
Questions almost never asked by the media, however, include:
- Is there any good news in Iran today?
- Is God working in that historic and important country, and if so, how?
- How can followers of Jesus Christ make an impact on Iran with the gospel of salvation through faith in Christ’s death on the cross and resurrection from the dead?
- How can we pray for the believers in Iran, and for all the people of Iran?
The amazing thing is: More Iranians will celebrate Easter this year — the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ — than at any other time in human history. That’s because more Iranians have renounced Islam and become followers of Jesus Christ in the last 31 years than the past 14 centuries combined.
On Tuesday, April 13th, I will be speaking at a special evening event in San Jose, California for the ministry of Hormoz Shariat, whom I describe as “the Billy Graham of Iran.” We’ll be talking about these extraordinary developments and addressing these very important questions. I hope you will join us. Hormoz used to be a Radical Shia Muslim in Iran shouting, “Death to America!” when the Ayatollah Khomeini came to power in 1979 and launched the Islamic Revolution. A few years later, Hormoz came to faith in Jesus Christ. Today, Hormoz is the most widely seen and heard and effective evangelist in all of Iran. He and his team with Iran Alive Ministries reach an estimated seven to nine million Iranian Muslims each weekday night (Tuesday through Friday nights) with the gospel of Jesus Christ through his satellite TV programs. He has also become a dear friend. You may recall I profiled Hormoz in my non-fiction book, Inside The Revolution. He was also featured in the documentary film we released on 9/11 last year. In San Jose, Hormoz and I will be sharing some of the remarkable things God is doing in Iran right now and inviting people to become prayer and financial supporters of the ministry the Lord has given him. I am really looking forward to it, and would love for you to be there. You can learn more and/or register at http://www.cityteam.org/joelrosenberg/.
What follows in an interview I did with Hormoz this past week, amidst finishing my new novel, The Twelfth Imam.
Rosenberg: What is the number one thing that followers of Jesus Christ around the world need to know about what God is doing inside Iran these days?
Hormoz Shariat: Christians around the world must know that even as the government of Iran is trying to export Islam to other countries, millions of Iranian Muslims are ready to turn away from Islam. They must know that there is a unique opportunity right now to impact Iran for Jesus Christ….[and] now is the time to reach Iran, not when it opens politically. If Iran’s government changed and became democratic, this spiritual hunger would die down within six months to one year.
Rosenberg: Why are so many Iranians renouncing Islam and becoming followers of Jesus?
Shariat: The number one reason is the years of prayers of Christians for the people living in the 10/40 window (Iran is at the center of that window). Another reason is that the true nature of Islam has been revealed to many Iranians. Iran is the only country in the world led by clergy. For 31 years, the people of Iran have experienced the implementation of true Islam. Before 1979, they had a romantic view of Islam. They taught that if Islam ruled in Iran, it would be a paradise on earth. They dreamed that with Islamic government, there would not be any more poverty nor injustice. But after 31 years, they have come to realize that there is something fundamentally wrong with Islam itself. They have realized that Islam has not done anything for them individually, neither for their family, and nor for their society. For 31 years, Islam has been forced on them and yet it has not worked. So in reaction to that, they want freedom, and they do not want Islam.
Rosenberg: What can you tell our readers about your ministry, for those who are not familiar with who you are and what you and your team does?
Shariat: We ourselves at Iran Alive Ministries are Muslim Background Believers who have a passion to reach Iran for Christ. Our track record shows that we have been very effective in brining Iranian Muslims to Christ and planting churches among them. After planting several churches in the USA, we have been using satellite TV to bring hundreds of thousands of Iranian Muslims to Christ and have helped plant house churches among them. By His grace we are equipped and positioned to make a tangible impact for Christ in Iran through satellite TV, Internet, and underground church planting. People who need more information about us can visit our website: www.IranAliveMinistries.org.
Rosenberg: What are your goals for the April 13th event in San Jose, and why should people register and attend?
Shariat: Our first goal is to INFORM people about what is happening in the Middle East and how it can impact their lives here in USA. They need to know that Islam can not be ignored. Otherwise, sooner or later, events worse than 9/11 will happen in this country. Second, we want to INSPIRE them. Our goal is to alarm them, but not to put fear in their hearts. We want them to know that God is doing a great work among the Muslims in the Middle East. Third, we want to INVITE them to join us in making history in Iran for Christ.
Rosenberg: With Iranians just celebrating “Nowruz,” the Persian New Year, what are the top five specific requests that followers of Jesus can be praying for the Iranian people this year?
- Please pray for the persecuted Christians in Iran. There are some who are in jail right now because of their faith and some are being tortured.
- Please pray that the spirit of Islam, which is the spirit of fear, will be bound and lifted from Iran. Once this spiritual veil is lifted, Iranian people can see the light and the truth of the Gospel and come to salvation.
- Please pray for the young Christian leaders in Iran who are serving God despite the fact that their lives are in danger daily. They are witnessing and starting underground house churches knowing that if caught, they could face a certain death. Pray for their protection and also for their courage.
- Please pray for wisdom for our ministry leadership. As the Bible says, we need to be as wiser than the serpent and as innocent as the dove. We also need to find new ways to grow and strengthen the church in Iran.
- Please pray against the schemes of the government to stop the growth of Christianity in Iran. They are jamming TV satellite signals, blocking and monitoring phone calls, disrupting internet connections, filtering websites, and hindering Bible distribution.
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