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Over the past couple of years, the world has watched with alarm as ISIS and other radical Islamic gangs have loosed a reign of terror, oppression and fear across the Middle East and beyond.
As they have murdered, maimed, destroyed and brought chaos wherever they go, these demonically inspired thugs have declared their goal is nothing less than the reemergence of an iron-fisted Islamic caliphate [state] that will, if not stopped, rule the Middle East and influence the entire Muslim world with a religious extremism that has not been witnessed for centuries. As a former radical Muslim who once embraced such an ideological worldview, I can wholly confirm that this is, indeed, the dark vision that burns in the hearts of fanatical Muslim militants bent on creating a world dominated by Islam. And it is just as ominous and threatening as it sounds.
But there is some great news rising up to counter this threat, and it is this: The Middle East is on fire—ablaze with the all-consuming love of Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God. Yes, in the midst of the terror and tyranny, the God of the Bible is moving by the power of His Holy Spirit across the Middle East and through the Muslim world. Just as it did in my own heart over 35 years ago, the love of Jesus is ripping apart the veil of darkness that has confined generations of Muslim individuals and families in the bondage of sin, fear and oppression.
The revelation of God's mercy and love is invading the hearts of untold millions of Muslims, one by one, in a miraculous and spontaneous way, and it's happening despite the aggressive efforts of religious leaders and Muslim-controlled Middle East governments. It's not happening through massive evangelistic campaigns sponsored by well-known preachers or through missions groups with million-dollar budgets. Instead, it's the simple hunger for truth, for freedom—for something more than dead religion and rules that kill—that is causing Muslims across the Middle East and the world to reach beyond despair and hopelessness. And as they reach, God is there, reaching back to touch these precious people with the salvation, healing and hope that can only come through Jesus.
I know because it happened to me, a young radical Muslim born into a strict Shi'ite family in Iran. My father was a Muslim scholar who taught my eight siblings and me to follow the Islamic faith with unquestioning zeal and to adhere to the letter of Sharia law. But in 1980, God began to capture my heart using the witness of two missionaries in Sweden, where I was living at the time. After months of reading the Bible and struggling with the Muslim beliefs that had kept me in chains for so long, I surrendered my life to Christ and was saved and instantly transformed from darkness to light. I cannot convey to you the heavy burden that was lifted from me and the hope and joy that flooded my heart.
I immediately felt compelled to share the hope and grace of Christ's love with other Muslims, a call which ultimately led me to begin producing programming in the Farsi language and to start a Christian television channel sending the message of Jesus to my native Iran. In 2006, through a partnership with the Trinity Broadcasting Network, we had the joy of launching TBN Nejat Television, a network that now reaches a potential of over 75 million Farsi-speaking viewers in Iran and throughout the rest of the world with the love of Jesus 24 hours a day.
If you have spent any time in the Middle East, you will understand what an ideal vehicle television is to reach the Muslim world with the gospel message. In hundreds of cities, small and large, across the region, satellite dishes dot the rooftops of millions of homes and apartments as individuals and families access programming from around the world including Christian television.
And those tiny dishes pulling in life-changing programming are bearing some amazing fruit. Our research indicates that since its launch, as many as five million Iranian Muslims have come to Christ through watching TBN Nejat Television. Every day, we receive testimonies from individuals who have experienced miraculous transformation as they watch our programming. Many are young people whom God has delivered from drug addiction, which is a huge problem in Iran. They are people like:
Ali, a thief and drug addict who served 10 years in an Iranian prison. One day, shortly after his release, he came across TBN Nejat TV, and after watching my Day of Salvation program, he gave his heart to Christ. He called us from Iran to testify that God has set him free and to ask for prayer that he would fulfill God's will for his life.
Bijan, a drug addict for over 35 years, who tuned in to TBN Nejat one day, turned his life over to Christ and was completely delivered from his addiction. Since then, his entire family—20 people altogether—have come to Christ.
Mohammad, an Iranian taxi driver who was delivered from a nearly 20-year addiction to drugs after he found TBN Nejat and became a born-again Christian. Since then, he has led many of his drug-addict friends to faith in Christ, and they regularly meet to study God's Word and encourage one another.
These are just a few of the ongoing stories we receive from men, women, and entire families in Iran and elsewhere abandoning Islam and finding abundant life through Christ. With thousands of Farsi-speaking individuals coming to Christ each month throughout the Middle East, we have helped to establish and disciple over 90 underground churches through TBN Nejat Television in Iran, Afghanistan, Kurdistan and other Farsi-speaking areas. I strongly believe that, given the number of individuals and families coming to faith in Christ, over the next few years, Iran could well become the first officially Islamic nation in which the majority of its citizens are actually born-again, committed Christians.
However, even with millions becoming Christians, Iran and the rest of the Middle East is still a dangerous place for those who love and serve Jesus. Thousands have been killed for their faith, many thousands more languish in desolate and dangerous prisons and untold millions suffer severe persecution for standing under allegiance to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Would you join other Christians and me in fervent prayer for our brothers and sisters in Iran and the rest of the Muslim world who are paying a steep price for their decision to follow Christ? Let us ask God to empower them to stand strong in their faith, to boldly declare the testimony of Jesus and to be covered by His blood. And let's pray for an even greater harvest of souls among Muslims in the Middle East and around the world.
Reza Safa is director of TBN Middle East, a group of life-changing Christian networks that include TBN Nejat Television, reaching Farsi-speaking viewers; Al Horrea TV in Arabic; JCTV Pakistan, reaching Urdu-speaking viewers and Kanal Hayat, reaching Turkish-language viewers.
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