Islam in Iran

I found a very interesting article in this month’s edition of Mission Frontiers Magazine (September-October 2008 – The U. S. Center for World Missions – 30:5). “Today’s Iranian Revolution: How the Mullahs Are Leading the Nation to Jesus” by Krikor Markarian reports that a cultural revolution is underway in Iran that could re-shape the Muslim world. This cultural revolution is sparked by the breakdown of government under the Shiite sociopolitical system. Here’s a section of the article:

… In the year 2000, Christian satellite broadcasting began beaming the gospel to almost every home in Iran. This was made possible by the fact that millions of satellite dishes had been illegally smuggled into Iran by corrupt members of the same government that had outlawed them. The Christian satellite programs became a lifeline for the church in Iran. Much more, when the Iranian people learned that the government was trying to scramble the broadcasts, they became an overnight sensation. Recent nationwide surveys reveal that over 70% of the population is watching Christian satellite programs. These same surveys indicate that at least one million have already become believers, and many millions more are on the verge.

This growth has happened so fast, the underground church can hardly keep apace. In one example, a house church that began with two people several years ago has now multiplied into over twenty groups. The leader of this network remarked, “Starting churches in Iran is easy! Everywhere you go to evangelize, people are ready to receive the gospel, or they have already become believers through satellite broadcasts.” … The government has left young people with nothing to do. So believers spend time with one another everyday.

They are constantly gathering for prayer, Bible study and evangelism. When a group reaches 25 people, they divide in half and begin again. Within two years, a new believer is expected to become a leader of a new house-fellowship and a disciple of new leaders.

God is at work in the world in unexpected ways। Many Christians have prayed for years that the light of the gospel would shine in the Arab world, and news of Christian revival in Iran is especially significant.

In a side bar called “Spiritual Vacuum,” Markarian notes that “Iran was supposed to become a model for the entire Muslim world of what an Islamic society should look like।” The Shiite Muslim system emphasizes a government by the clergy, and a failure of this system in Iran would reflect poorly on Shiite Islam (Shia) in the Arabic world.

I will never forget walking into the lobby area of my student dormitory at the University of Tennessee to see a man with a sledge hammer standing on top of a wall covered with graffiti। He was using the sledge hammer to tear down the brick barrier. The announcer told us this was the Berlin wall, and it was coming down. A small youth group at our rural church had prayed for this all during my high school years. We echoed prayers being made all over the world.

I am not a person who hears “the voice of God” to guide me everyday. As a general rule, I don’t “hear God speak.” But at that moment on that day I sensed an impression that was more clear than any spoken word. God “said” to me: “You didn’t think I would do it, did you.” I do not recall ever doubting that my prayers make a difference after that moment.

Iranian Christians, our prayers are with you!


Spurgeon on Doctrine

Thanks to Adrian Warnock for a quote from C. H. Spurgeon that is well worth repeating:

The gospel is a reasonable system, and it appeals to men's understanding; it is a matter for thought and consideration, and it appeals to the conscience and the reflecting powers। Hence, if we do not teach men something, we may shout, "Believe! Believe! Believe!" but what are they to believe? Each exhortation requires a corresponding instruction, or it will mean nothing. "Escape!" From what? This requires for its answer the doctrine of the punishment of sin. "Fly!" But whither? Then must you preach Christ, and His wounds; yea, and the clear doctrine of atonement by sacrifice. "Repent!" Of what? Here you must answer such questions as, What is sin? What is the evil of sin? What are the consequences of sin ? "Be converted!" But what is it to be converted? By what power can we be converted? What from? What to? The field of instruction is wide if men are to be made to know the truth which saves. "That the soul be without knowledge, it is not good," and it is ours as the Lord's instruments to make men so to know the truth that they may believe it, and feel its power. We are not to try and save men in the dark, but in the power of the Holy Ghost we are to seek to turn them from darkness to light.


Personal Request

Please pray for my niece, Lilah. She is two months old, and she has some very serious heart defects. Updates can be found here.

Also, there are several other issues facing my family right now: my father-in-law’s leukemia and hospitalization, and several other stressors are making life difficult।
Something(s) we are doing are ticking Satan off, and God must really think a lot of us or we wouldn’t have all of this (1 Cor. 10:13).


Al Mohler on New Atheism

I just finished Al Mohler’s book Atheism Remix. It’s a short, pithy call to Christians for a distinctly biblical response to Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens. Crossway’s new book blog has a link to a clip of Mohler talking about the topic.

The book is a good read. Mohler summarizes a response from Alvin Plantinga in an article on the web called “The Dawkins Confusion: Naturalism ad absurdum.” The web article was worth the price of Mohler’s book. Mohler chooses to summarize other people’s arguments instead of putting forth his own, and that does trouble me.

God and Genocide

New Attitude gives a good introductory answer to questions about the Israelite conquest of Canaan and God’s direction to kill the inhabitants. It’s a sensitive answer to a question that makes many stumble.

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