A year with COVID-19: Iranians speak out
The Coronavirus pandemic has taken lives, damaged economies, changed circumstances and created much uncertainty across the world. Christian viewers of SAT-7 PARS in Iran have shared how their faith in Christ is supporting them one year on.
Being cut off from friends and family and experiencing deprivation from meaningful fellowship continues to be a test of endurance for many in Iran and around the world. And yet, messages from Iranian believers offer much encouragement for anyone who feels alone.
“The pressure and difficulties we experience are increasing all the time. We already had problems earning an income and with unemployment, inflation, upsetting news and injustice; all of which are a small portion of the problems our people face. All of this, and the Coronavirus got added to the mix,” shares one SAT-7 PARS viewer.
The first cases of COVID-19 were initially reported in Iran on 19 February 2020. Since then, according to official figures, the virus has claimed the lives of over 58,000 Iranians and it is possible the true figures are significantly higher.
The response of Iranians to restrictive guidelines and lockdowns has been mixed, much as it has been in the rest of the world. “The people are worried. They fear the virus,” shares Rozita. “From a work and income perspective some are on the verge of bankruptcy. I have also seen some people who are indifferent to the situation and for a long time they were going out without masks, believing that the Coronavirus only kills the weak. Others have become obsessive and have developed psychological problems.”
The continuing build-up of pressure is causing greater friction in families and it is proving too much for some. One viewer writes: “After many years of marriage, my wife has asked for a divorce [even though] we have young children. The virus outbreak was and remains the factor that contributed the most to our separation and has had a destructive impact on my life.” In other cases, loneliness is another problem impacting large numbers of people.
Faith in Christ Makes a Real Difference
Because of the threat of persecution, Iranian Christians potentially face a greater degree of isolation, in part because they observe the guidelines. Open participation in Christian gatherings led to persecution even before COVID-19. “The pandemic has caused me to become more isolated and it has prevented me from being able to embrace and kiss my mother and my loved ones,” says Rozita.
Despite the challenging conditions, messages to SAT-7 PARS show that Christians are able to lean on their faith in Christ, and that is making a significant difference to them in facing the problems brought about by COVID-19. “The Coronavirus has brought me much closer to Christ,” Rozita continues to explain. “It has reminded me that as human beings we have no power, and that life itself hangs by a thread and is only sustained by the will of the Lord. So, we must appreciate the value of life and that of our loved ones each moment we are given.”
“The Coronavirus has underscored the need to value and be thankful for one another and not to unwisely judge each other,” writes Yavar, a male SAT-7 PARS viewer from Iran. “After all, the veil between life and death is not substantial. There have been times when there were a lot of people around but because of the emptiness inside we felt alone. But now that vacuum is filled by Christ, and even when you are on your own you don’t feel alone.”