People are coming to faith in Iran in larger numbers than ever before. It is believed that Iran has the fastest growing house church movement in the world today. But sadly, a lack of Christian teaching, combined with the isolation that many new Iranian believers face, and materials from cults that have emerged in Iran, many have fallen away.
Because of this, SAT-7 PARS is committed to providing solid biblical teaching for all believers in various stages of growth in Iran. One such television show that SAT-7 PARS provides, Question Mark, supports new believers in these critical early stages of their journey. The 90-minute live show is entirely dedicated to answering Farsi-speaking viewers’ questions about Christianity, to help them grow to maturity and feel less alone in their faith. This and other shows, support seekers, new believers, growing believers and believers who are leading one or more house churches in the country as part of an overarching strategy called Seminary on the Air (SOTA).
Producer Moe Pooladfar explains that it is easy for Christians in the West to take for granted the access they have to reliable spiritual teaching, which is not readily available in Iran:
“Immediately after someone has accepted Jesus, there is no place for them to go. At the beginning, when you read the Bible as a new or seeking believer, you come across a lot of things that don’t necessarily make sense. That’s where Question Mark comes in.
We forget, even I do, that this person in a remote village in Iran has no clue, because there is so much censorship. There is not even a Bible available. There is no teaching at school or in their families, so there is no clue at all about Christianity.”
Answering Questions, Big or Small
To counter this lack of teaching, Question Mark systematically answers theological questions on a variety of topics, such as:
• the Trinity
• the divinity of Jesus
• life after death
• how to share the Good News
• the role of the Holy Spirit
• how to read the Bible
• fighting false teaching
The presenter, Sally, and a guest host, usually an Iranian Christian pastor or Bible teacher, start the show with a brief, unscripted chat to lay some groundwork on the chosen topic. The remaining hour is given over entirely to answering viewers’ questions live on air, with questions coming in through social media, text and a smartphone app called Telegram, as well as phone calls.
Moe explains that even when viewers’ questions seem very simple to the presenters, it’s important to take their requests seriously. “Some of our Bible teachers have PhDs and doctorates, so they like to answer the bigger questions, the deeper questions,” Moe says. “But most viewers actually have very simple questions. It’s important to answer them, because this is where they are spiritually at the moment.”
While most of those contacting the show are new believers, questions also come in from people of other faiths who are trying to understand Christian doctrine. Sally, the show’s presenter, says, “Some of them text us and say ‘Who is Jesus? Jesus was a prophet, so why do you call him God? What is Christianity?’ At the end, some of them even say if ‘I want to change my religion, what should I do? How should I pray?’”
“I get excited when I see these questions coming in,” says Moe. “They are actually watching and reading the Bible. They are trying to understand – that’s amazing.”
A Relationship of Trust
The show has built up a culture of interaction, and viewers often call in to respond to each other’s questions. “It’s good because it’s not just us talking, there is a conversation and interaction happening,” Sally says. “We encourage people to come and give their comments, as well as testimonies, which can be very powerful.”
Because of this relationship of trust and dialogue with their viewers, Sally and the team can make sure they are responding to people’s specific spiritual needs.
“They really count on this kind of program – they even send us messages asking to have more hours!” Sally says. “They say, ‘We don’t have any church to go to. We don’t have any believers around us. This is the only way we can get fed with the Holy Book and to answer our questions. This is the only source that we can trust.’”
“I thank the Lord for all of you and for your network. I’m very grateful for the program Question Mark, which is excellent! I got the answer to my question… I understand now that I was the one that was doubting, whereas God simply answers our invitation and enters our lives. Thank You, God!” – Farah, Iran
It is messages and testimonies like Farah’s that give Sally and Moe the encouragement they need to keep going in their work for SAT-7. “For us to go to the studio every day, or do the show every week, there is the tendency to forget the bigger picture,” Moe says. “You have to remind yourself that there is a purpose behind this and there are people watching for whom this is their only means of getting to know Jesus right now. There might be someone desperate. Even though it’s work for us, it could be changing people’s lives.”
“Sometimes we feel like we just sit and talk, and we don’t know how much it’s working,” Sally adds. “But when you see the result and fruit, then you see that God is working, thank God. It’s a great blessing for us too.”
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