There have been antigovernment protests in Iran before, but this is different. In the past the focus was on reform while now the goal is revolution! The uprising may have begun with the death of a Kurdish Iranian woman arrested for not completely covering her hair, but the cry of protestors, ‘Women, Life, Freedom!’ goes beyond dress code to pleas for social justice and basic human rights, and though initially driven by women and girls, it is uniting people from all ages and walks of life across the country. Government crackdown seems to just increase the anger, grief and defiance. After forty- three years of an oppressive Islamic government, the people of Iran have had enough.
In 1979 on the eve of the return of exiled Ayatollah Khomeini, Julyan and I were at Bible School in Glasgow and prayed through the night that the he wouldn’t bring the Islamic Revolution to Iran. God didn’t appear to hear us, and our fears were realised. Missionaries were forced to leave; churches that worshipped in Farsi and welcomed Muslim background Iranians were closed down; martyrdoms and imprisonments followed, and persecution of Christians continues to this day.
However, God answered our prayers in ways we couldn’t have imagined. Openness to Christ, which began under this oppressive regime, has only gained momentum over the years as underground house churches multiply and networks are established. Interested Muslims access Farsi Scriptures and other materials online. Persecution from the religious police is real and as Iranians flee their country, fellowships of Iranian believers spring up in cities all over the world.
Valley of Weeping
How brave the women and girls who began these current protests, and braver still those demonstrators who are continuing to stand up, refusing to to be silent, despite regime brutality. There are many tears being shed in Iran and among the diaspora around the world as batons and bullets fly, and sad songs gather up grievances, giving voice to the pain in hearts. The Iranian people are passing through a Valley of Weeping (Psalm 84:5-7). Can our prayers turn it to a place of springs and the Iranian people find true freedom in Christ?
Prayer for Iran
Pray for the church in Iran to declare with one voice, louder than ever, that ‘Jesus is Lord’ and that truest freedom is found in him.