"Jesus appears to them all the time through visions, dreams and miracles. Sometimes I feel these days if you want to see Jesus, you have to be a Muslim. It's almost like Jesus is looking at the rest of the world, saying, 'Look at Me. I love them. I'm healing them, I'm appearing to them. Will you love them with Me?'"
This is the invitation of Hormoz Shariat, head of Iran Alive Ministries, who recently sat down with The Christian Post to share how God is working in the country of Iran, and in the Muslim community. Iran is closed to Christianity; according to Iran Alive Ministries, there are no above-ground Christian churches. However, Christianity is fervently spreading throughout the country, bringing hope and freedom to its people. Shariat's media ministry is a key tool for Iranian Muslims to encounter the gospel message.
Shariat grew up in the Muslim faith in Iran and moved to the U.S. in 1979 to pursue doctoral studies in artificial intelligence. During that time he began what he refers to as a time of "spiritual questioning." On a search to discover if God is "really there" he dove into studying the Quran, and after completing it, found it "didn't add anything" to him. However, he felt compelled to continue studying, despite feeling as though he wouldn't discover anything new. He picked up the Bible, and while reading the book of Matthew, encountered a different Jesus than the one taught about through Islam.
A friend invited Shariat to a church in Los Angeles where he heard the gospel preached and he committed his life to Jesus. Shortly thereafter God called him to share the gospel message with other Muslims.
He began by planting a church in San Jose, California, where he saw hundreds of Muslims convert to Christianity. However, his heart burned to see more Muslims hear the Good News of Jesus, so in 2001 Iran Alive Ministries was founded, utilizing satellite television to broadcast the message of Jesus.
Shariat's goal was to reach 1 million Muslims with the gospel. He states, "By God's grace, through media, I have passed this number multiple times." He points out many who follow Islam are attracted to Christianity because it is a faith based on love.
The government of Iran has made it incredibly difficult for Iran Alive Ministries' message to be heard. They have blocked their website and phone lines, making it challenging for those in the country to connect for prayer or more information; however, Shariat reports " ... We have the names of over 37,000 people who have received Christ, and we know there are several hundred thousand who have made decisions but haven't been able to tell us."
Those who are able to contact IAM have reported experiencing God through dreams, visions and miraculous events.
God is moving powerfully in the country of Iran. IAM's website shares this statistic: "According to the latest release of the Operation World manual, Iran has the fastest growing Evangelical population in the entire world! This is not because it has grown from ten people to hundreds of people, but because it has exploded from hundreds of Persians to hundreds of thousands of Persians and continues to grow exponentially. At a 19.6 percent growth rate, the Evangelical population is doubling every four years!"
Shariat has a deep passion to see Muslims come to Jesus, and Iran to become a Christian nation. He invites other believers into his mission: "Let's share the gospel with Iranian Muslims. Let's disciple a nation together. Iran is such fertile ground. Whatever you invest, you see much return. God is radically transforming an entire nation."
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