Iran (MNN) — In Iran, like many countries in the Middle East, being a Christian can cost your life. Christianity is seen as a threat to Islamic identity, and Muslims who convert face the most persecution.
(Photo courtesy of SAT-7 PARS)
Sharing the Gospel and discipling believers are difficult, life-threatening tasks. One ministry, however, is finding efficient and safer ways to do this. SAT-7 PARS, the Farsi-language channel of a Christian satellite television ministry to the Middle East and North Africa, recently upgraded to a new satellite that could triple its reach throughout Iran and neighboring countries.
“It makes me feel that things are starting to happen inside Iran, because after seeing this miracle — allowing us, the first Christian channel ever, to broadcast on this big satellite — I definitely feel that our Lord has a plan for the Farsi-speaking, the Afghan-speaking, the Tajik-speaking people who are inside Iran,” SAT-7 PARS Senior Manager Panayiotis Keenan says.
It didn’t happen overnight. Keenan says the station had been trying for years to broadcast on Yahsat but had been consistently rejected. Keenan says the Muslim-based company out of Dubai rejected the station because of its Christian message.
“A month ago, again, we tried through our CEO who met the company in Dubai and they went through the programs, they went through everything that SAT-7 broadcasts,” Keenan says.
“I believe the reason the door was open to us is because of the ethos our programs have. Actually, the ethos is the second reason that we have been accepted. The first reason the doors have been opened is because of our Lord Jesus Christ answering our prayers.”
While television provides a relatively safe means of hearing the Gospel, using technology to learn about God or communicate with other Christians is risky. Keenan says believers live in constant fear and mistrust of the people they interact with.
Coverage of Yahsat 1A. (Photo courtesy of SAT-7 PARS)
“The church is persecuted inside Iran,” Keenan says. “The Christians are persecuted. Social media is filtered, so when you try to go to a page that has something to do with Christianity, immediately your page is shut down. Or, they might let you go to the site so they can find your IP address, see where you are, then come to arrest you. That’s how far they will go.
“Also, they are very, very scared because there are people who work for the government, who act like Christians in order for the real Christians to [connect] with them, and then they get arrested. And we have hundreds of examples that Christians are being arrested and you don’t know their whereabouts for years, or their family might not even know their whereabouts forever.
Still, God is moving in Iran. SAT-7 produces a variety of programs that introduce viewers to Christ and help them grow in their faith. Viewers who respond are eventually introduced to an underground church network where they are further discipled. Keenan says people’s passion for the Gospel outweighs their fears.
“They take this risk to contact us because of how they are living and the depression and the oppression they have,” Keenan says. “They are eager to learn about Jesus and to be set free. They are so eager that they will take these risks.”
Can you keep these persecuted believers in your prayers? Pray for courage and safety for new believers seeking to grow spiritually. Also, pray for guidance as SAT-7 seeks to develop programs that will embolden and encourage believers. You can support SAT-7’s work financially by clicking here.