By Dan Wooding, Founder of the ASSIST News Service
IRAN (ANS – July 23, 2015) — A new series on SAT-7’s Farsi language TV channel is helping Iran’s growing house churches “develop techniques of endurance,” equipping them to persevere under persecution.
Presented by Rev. Albert Aslan and Rev. Edward Hovsepian, two well-known Iranian-born pastors, God and the Persecuted brings encouragement from Scripture and church history to strengthen Iran’s Christian House Churches.
Mansour Khajehpour, Executive Director of SAT-7 PARS, explains why: “If you accept Jesus Christ in Iran, you keep this between you and your wife or husband. Around you, there are spies who will betray you, so it has to stay in your heart. People constantly lose their jobs, are disowned by their communities and family members, kicked out of schools and work places, beaten on the streets. I have the joy and honor of saying I personally experienced most of those.”
“When anyone applies for work, the first line on the job application asks for your religion,” he adds, “You either have the choice of lying, which is not advised by the Bible, or saying the truth and having no job.”
According to SAT-7, some 83 Christian men and women are currently known to be imprisoned in Iran because of their faith. When they are released from prison, there will be no work, and they cannot easily meet with other believers who might themselves fear being arrested if they are seen associating with them.
Each episode begins with a short look at one aspect of modern-day persecution, followed by an examination of similar suffering in the first three centuries of the Church – itself a network of rapidly growing house churches.
All of this, Khajehpour explains, is seen in the light of teaching in the First Letter of Peter: “So we show there has been pain and suffering but then there is the reality of Church growth.” He says, “The series will focus on the key reality that despite 2,000 years of persecution, like what is happening in Iran, there are 2,000 years of church growth.”
Above all, the goal is to come alongside Iranian believers and help them respond biblically to adversity and learn to draw on God’s grace and strength. But Khajehpour hopes that God and the Persecuted will also raise awareness about persecution in Iran and ‘call Farsi-speaking Christians outside the region to remember the suffering Church and stand with them through continuous prayer.”
Khajehpour closes: “Everyday as a staff, the SAT-7 PARS team gathers together and prays for our viewers. We want to have a message of reassurance that will give them the peace of Christ and say ‘You are not forgotten. You are part of the bigger Body of Christ and the rest of the Body will advocate for you, we will pray for you, we will care for you, we will stand by you.’”
In 1995, Dr. Terence Ascott, along with Middle Eastern Christian leaders and around twenty partner organizations working in the region, launched SAT-7: The first Arabic language Christian satellite television channel. The channel was a pioneer in many areas, breaking ground for other ministries to follow. In the years since its launch, SAT-7 has grown from a two-hour a week broadcast, to a network of five 24-hour channels:
SAT-7 ARABIC (Arabic Christian programming for every age group), SAT-7 KIDS (the first and currently the only Arabic Christian channel for children), SAT-7 PLUS (The best Arabic programming from the other channels, broadcast to a different audience, over a different satellite), SAT-7 PARS (a 24-hour channel in Farsi/Persian, with some programming in Dari for Afghanistan) and SAT-7 TÜRK (Christian programming for 100 million Turkish-speakers in the region).
In a region characterized by high illiteracy rates, media censorship, and limited incomes, anyone with a satellite dish can turn on SAT-7 and hear the Word of God in his or her language. Our viewers can join a global fellowship of Christians within the privacy of their own homes — a significant concern for those who live in violence-stricken or oppressive environments. Audience Relations Specialists are available throughout the region to counsel and pray with viewers.
Photo captions: 1) A scene from the new program. 2) Mushrooming satellite dishes are springing up all over the Middle East. 3) Dan Wooding hosting his “His Channel Live” TV show.
For more information, please go to http://www.sat7usa.org.
About the writer: Dan Wooding, 74, is an award-winning author, broadcaster and journalist who was born in Nigeria of British missionary parents, and is now living in Southern California with his wife Norma, to whom he has been married for 52 years. They have two sons, Andrew and Peter, and six grandchildren who all live in the UK. He is the author of some 45 books and has radio and TV programs based in Orange County, California.
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