Iranian-American Pastor Reza Safa, a former radical Muslim and founder of the Farsi-language Christian network TBN Nejat Television, has issued an urgent request for Christians around the world to pray for Iran and its people as political unrest rages in the Muslim-controlled nation. Since Dec. 28, tens of thousands of Iranian citizens have taken to the streets of the northern city of Mashhad and elsewhere to protest political oppression, with at least 20 individuals killed in violence.
Safa, whose TBN affiliate network reaches deep into Iran with the gospel message, noted that the protests mark the second time in less than 10 years the people of Iran have risen up against the nation's oppressive Islamic government, which first gained control with the overthrow of Shah Reza Pahlavi in 1979. "For the past 39 years, the Islamic regime has done nothing but oppress the people of Iran," said Safa. "The Iranian people are fed up with the government's corruption and its squandering of the nation's wealth to fund terrorism abroad."
Iran's economy is in shambles, with an unemployment rate that Iran's Interior Ministry estimates may be as high as 60 percent in some areas of the country. Safa said that young people under 30, a demographic that constitutes more than half of Iran's population, are particularly affected, which has helped to fuel the anger against the government.
"In Iran today the people have virtually no freedom," said Safa. "Even the way they dress publicly is controlled by the government. So now, for the second time since 2009, the people have taken to the streets in cities across Iran to protest against economic hardship and political repression."
However, he added, there is a major difference this time around. "Today in Iran the gospel is going forward as never before," said Safa. "Through outlets like TBN Nejat Television, the message of salvation through Jesus is impacting literally every major population center across the nation—despite aggressive efforts by Iran's government to stop it. Over the past several years, countless thousands of Iranians have come to faith in Christ, so that today the nation of Iran is poised for positive change."
Safa emphasized the importance of Christians around the world joining together in spirit to pray for the people of Iran at this crucial time. "It is important to think in terms of the church and salvation of souls when we read historical events and political changes," he said. "I believe that God is preparing an army of ex-Muslims to evangelize the Islamic world in the days ahead. If this is the time for a political change in Iran, our prayers today need to be that a proper and right government is established in this nation and people loved by God. Will you join me in interceding on behalf of Iran and its people?"
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