The Book of Hebrews chronicles the persecutions of the early disciples, popularly known as the Heroes of Faith, saying “They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated — the world was not worthy of them.” (Hebrews 11:37-38)
Right now, we have Christian brothers and sisters across the Middle East and North Africa living in the face of violent oppression. Iranian Christians in particular face different kinds of subversive persecution that has put a tight squeeze on their livelihoods.
UNEMPLOYED AND DISOWNED FOR FAITH
Mansour Khajehpour, former Executive Director of SAT-7 PARS, came to Christ from a devout Shia background at the age of 15. He says, “If you accept Jesus Christ in Iran, you keep this between you and your wife or husband. Around you, there are spies who will betray you, so it has to stay in your heart. People constantly lose their jobs, are disowned by their communities and family members, are kicked out of schools and workplaces, and are beaten on the streets. I have the joy and honor of saying I personally experienced most of those. When anyone applies for work, the first line asks for your religion. You either have the choice of lying, which is not advised by the Bible, or saying the truth and having no job.”
As we speak, Iranian Christians are trying to decide whether to be honest or secure a paycheck, whether to live out their faith or finish a university degree. For many, the cost of living out their faith is at odds with a prosperous future.
GOD AND THE PERSECUTED
A new series on SAT-7 PARS will help Iran’s growing house churches develop endurance to persevere through widespread persecution.
Presented by two well-known Iranian-born pastors, God and the Persecuted will bring encouragement from Scripture and church history to strengthen Iran’s secret Christians.
Each episode starts with a short look at an aspect of modern-day persecution, followed by 20 minutes examining suffering in the first three centuries of the Church – itself a network of rapidly growing house churches.
All of this, Mansour (pictured left) explains, is seen in the light of the first letter of Peter. “So we show there has been pain and suffering but then there is the reality of Church growth,” Mansour says. “The series will focus on the key reality that despite 2,000 years of persecution, like what is happening in Iran, there are 2,000 years of church growth.” Above all, the goal is to come alongside Iranian believers and help them respond biblically to adversity and to draw on God’s grace and strength.
In 2016, a drama-documentary series called Beyond Persecution delved into the lives of Farsi-speaking Christians who fled their countries due to persecution. It showed how they were rebuilding their lives in Turkey. The series explored the background of each Christian, how they came to know Christ personally, the difficulties they faced as a believer, their reasons for leaving their country, and how they keep their faith today despite their hardships.
SHOP VANDALIZED FOR FAITH
Audience members call and write SAT-7 counselors to ask for prayer and encouragement in the thick of hard times. They face trials that would be uncommon in the United States, but they are courageous heroes.
Sam contacts SAT-7 to say, “Thank you for your kindness and for supporting me with the Word of Truth. I didn’t expect people to react so aggressively when I told them about the Bible. They invaded my shop and assaulted me. They broke the window by pushing me into it and they destroyed my merchandise. I had no peace when it first happened. But today I’m at peace and have no fear because I truly feel that God is with me. I always pray, and I believe in the power of prayer. To pray in the name of Jesus Christ is mighty.”
Persecuted Christians like Sam are turning to SAT-7 programs for biblical answers to their trials, for encouragement and fellowship during isolating times. Thank you for doing your part to support them through SAT-7’s Christian television programs.
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© SAT-7 2017