Dare To Dream For Freedom
What if meeting with others to worship meant risking arrest and imprisonment? What if you could not find a Bible in your own language? This is the reality for many Persian-speaking believers in countries like Iran and Afghanistan. Their messages to SAT-7 PARS demonstrate their strength and faith as they dare to dream for the freedom to worship Jesus.
“I am in a deeply religious family. Even naming Jesus could be enough to earn me a stoning,” writes Esfandiar*, from Afghanistan, to SAT-7 PARS’ Audience Relations team. “I am not able to have a telephone conversation with you and can only be in contact via text message.”
These kinds of messages from believers in Iran and Afghanistan are not uncommon.
In Iran, converting to Christianity is illegal. Believers who meet together to worship are at significant risk of arrest and imprisonment. However, despite religious persecution – or perhaps because of it – Iran is reported to have one of the fastest-growing ‘underground’ churches in the world.
EMOTIONAL AND SPIRITUAL SUPPORT
Thousands reach out to SAT-7 PARS for emotional and spiritual support. Their messages show insight into the struggles they are facing, and how SAT-7 PARS is encouraging them during these difficult times. Nariman shared: “There are many stories I could tell you about the difficulties with which I have to live. My aim is to leave Iran, although I love Iran. My only reason for wanting to leave, is that I am exposed to a great deal of pressure and threat from the authorities. I am grateful to the ever-loving Lord that I found SAT-7 PARS. My favourite days are when I watch programs of teaching and discipleship.”
In the midst of discrimination and persecution, viewers frequently reach out to the Audience Relations team who are on-hand to talk and pray with them.
“I want to thank the Lord Jesus for your existence. You fill our lives with blessings and your efforts make a huge difference. It is especially important for us Christians in Iran who worship the Lord in secret because of constraints and oppression,” says Rustam from Iran.
CONNECTED TO A GLOBAL FAMILY
SAT-7’s programs enable Persian-speaking believers to feel connected to a global church family, even when there is no local church for them to attend. SAT-7 PARS programs are produced by Persians who grew up in the Middle East, so they can relate to the struggles viewers in the region are going through, and make relevant and engaging programming.
“The strength of your channel comes from your directors, who make the programs seem as if they involve the viewer in everything,” says Hovan. “They make us feel like we are part of the movement and like true brothers and sisters, with a real connection, developing a trust with each other as a true family.”
DARING TO DREAM
Many Iranian viewers write or call in to SAT-7 to share their personal prayers. They continue to hope and believe for a day when they will be free to worship openly in their home country:
“I hope one day everyone will come to know the God of love. A God who does not seek to set us aflame, but a Father who desires to help us in our need. I hope a day will come when I can go to church, be baptised, and worship as a real Christian.”
They dare to dream that one day, persecution will come to an end. Firozeh prays:
“It is through your programs that we have gained the Lord’s strength and spiritual growth. I pray that chains will break, the persecution will stop toward Jesus Christ’s followers; may the churches and people in Iran be free and may we raise the name of the Lord in our country.”
*all names have been changed for security purposes.
This article is part of SAT-7’s Week of Prayer 2019 – Dare to Dream. Please join us in praying for the people of the Middle East and North Africa. Click here to access more resources and download our prayer guide.