Religious Liberty Prayer List – No. 184 – Tue 03 Sep 2002
———————————- IRAN: DESPERATELY NEEDS THE GOSPEL ———————————-
The Islamic Revolution of 1979 established a theocratic dictatorship that has left many Iranians despairing, rebelling, and seeking an escape or alternatives. Iran is a land with two faces. The public face is one of Islamic ‘purity’ – black chador-clad women, and conformity with Islamic rules. The secret face however, is one of rapidly escalating unemployment, drug addiction, prostitution, HIV and AIDS, discontent, despair and suicide. With a population of 60 million, and 35 million under the age of 20, it is the young who are most severely affected.
An Iranian report released in 2000 estimated that five tonnes of narcotics were being consumed in Tehran (the capital) every day. In 1999, prostitution had increased by 635% among high school students and the suicide rate by 109%, in 12 months. The report also said that 75% of the population – 86% of school students – do not say daily prayers.
Today it is acknowledged that Iran has 2-3 million drug addicts. Many girls are running away from home, from arranged child marriages or a horrific home-life. One women’s rights advocate in Iran says an average of 30 runaway girls are found lost and confused in Tehran every day. She estimates that there could be up to 100 run-aways coming there daily. Some 90% of all run-away girls end up in prostitution.
In 1979, the number of Muslim background Christians in Iran was around 500 and today it is estimated to be up to 20,000. The majority of evangelical Christians in Iran were once Muslims, but many remain secret, as apostates are severely persecuted and even killed or ‘disappeared’. Other Christians are harassed and threatened also. As a result, Christians who are able to, emigrate.
Iran is home to some of the world’s largest unreached people groups – only 8 of the 70 ethnic groups in Iran have any known believers. Many of the 5 million Iranians in the diaspora are hearing the gospel and are finding life in Christ. Inside Iran however, amidst the disillusionment, despair and desperation, witnessing is prohibited and millions of Iranians live and die unaware of the love of Jesus and the abundant life and salvation he freely offers.
PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY FOR:
a.. the faith and hope of Iranian Christians to remain strong in spite of crippling discrimination, severe trials and persecution.
b.. safety for Muslims who choose to follow Jesus, whose lives are at risk constantly; for great wisdom to know God’s will daily.
c.. God to use Iranian believers to bring blessing and hope to others, that the Church may grow.
d.. God to reveal himself to Iranian leaders through dreams and visions – Jesus himself knows no such thing as ‘restricted access’. “Healthy people don’t need a doctor – sick people do. I have come to call sinners to turn from their sins, not to spend my time with those who think they are already good enough.” Jesus – Luke 5:31,32 (NLT)
SUMMARY TO USE IN BULLETINS UNABLE TO RUN THE WHOLE ARTICLE: ——————————————————————-
IRAN DESPERATELY NEEDS THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST
Whilst the public face of Iran is one of Islamic conformity, the fact is Iran is facing rapidly escalating social problems. Drug addiction, prostitution, HIV and AIDS, suicide and rejection of hardline Islam are rampant especially among the young. (More than half of Iran’s 60 million population are under 20 years of age.) Muslims who become Christians are severely persecuted. Some have been killed and ‘disappeared’. Persecution of all Christians is severe, as is the crippling discrimination. In this land of despair and desperation, witnessing for Christ is prohibited. Only 8 of the 70 ethnic groups in Iran have any known believers. Most Iranians live and die unaware of the love of Jesus and the abundant life and salvation he freely offers. Luke 5:31,32
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The WEA Religious Liberty Commission sponsors this RL Prayer List to help individuals and groups pray specifically and regularly for religious liberty issues, and in particular to uphold the Church where it is suffering persecution.
Elizabeth Kendal researched and authored this message.