Hormoz Shariat, president and founder of Iran Alive Ministries says, “Christianity has more credibility and respect among a large number of Muslims than Islam itself”. “Iranian Muslims used to say, ‘Islam is good, and it’s just the government that has a problem.’ No, Iran has passed that point. It has come to the point that many say, ‘Islam has major flaws and problems itself.’ People are fed up with the hypocrisy of what Islam has done to this society. And every time things happen [in the news], another layer of the veil of Islam is removed. People look at what Islam is, and a greater number of people will be abandoning Islam and coming to Christ.”
Shariat told Charisma Magazine, one Iranian Christian called to tell him that he got arrested after starting house churches. He had to seek medical treatment for the beatings he received. But the man told Shariat, “Pastor, do not give up. Don’t worry about us. I had the honour of being tortured for Christ. Do you remember Psalm 23? I had the honour of experiencing that verse in the torture chamber. How can you experience that if your enemies are not there? My enemies are there, but my sweet Jesus was there also.”
Shariat has spoken to many Muslims through his work with Iran Alive Ministries and says many of them are frustrated with Islam. Mosques across Iran are reportedly emptying.
VISIONS AND MANIFESTATIONS
Iranians’ increasing rejection of Islam has made them more open to other religions, including Christianity. And Jesus is utilizing supernatural means to reach some of these former Muslims, sources tell Charisma.
Though many American Christians don’t believe Jesus physically appears to people anymore, Joel Richardson, who co-produced Sheep Among Wolves, Volume II, describes a recurring phenomenon in the Middle East that challenges that belief. Multiple people describe remarkably similar encounters in which a “man in white,” identified by many as Jesus, appears to them.
While interviewing a woman from Afghanistan, Richardson referenced cessationist theology: “John MacArthur, a well-known preacher here in the States, says that Jesus is not really appearing to Muslims. What do you have to say about that?”
The woman responded, “I don’t know who John MacArthur is, but I do know the man in white who has been appearing to Muslims.”
Henry says he’s met many Muslims in Iran who report seeing this “man in white.” He even says one Muslim he met wrote down the entire Gospel of John due to the “man in white” appearing to him and telling him to do so. This Muslim—who lived in a mud hut and had no electricity, gas or phone line—had never even heard of Jesus.
The man told Henry, “A man in white knocks on my door every night. And every time I open the door, I can’t look at his face, but he tells me to write these things down.”
“How long has he been coming?” Henry asked the man, and the man gave him the notebook containing the words he’d been commanded to write. Henry was astonished to discover it was the entire book of John, verbatim. He concluded that Jesus had been visiting the man every night. Eventually, Henry says, the whole city came to Jesus because of this man’s testimony, and he was forced to flee for his life.
Bagheri says these kinds of miraculous visitations by Christ are actually the main way Iranians come to faith.
Richardson says discipleship in Iran is the main reason why their churches are flourishing. That said, the Western model of church—such as the typical Sunday morning services—doesn’t work well in Iran.
“The way that we in the West do church is not always conducive to discipleship,” Richardson says. “In that sense, I would say it’s the focus on Sunday church that can be the problem in the West. ‘Christian’ [in America] is defined by someone who goes to church regularly, whereas biblically, a Christ follower—a Christian—is a disciple; it’s someone who’s actively engaged in an obedience-based relationship.”
Evangelical efforts within Iran are strictly based on reaching individuals, such as family members and close friends, as opposed to large groups. One-on-one evangelism is the safest and most effective model for the Iranian community.”
The leadership is decentralised and it’s distributed. It’s not based around a particular individual or skill set or gifting. It’s built around an Ephesians 4 framework of empowering everyone in the body [of Christ] to be all things to all men with the fullness of the power of the Holy Spirit being manifest through all of us. … The entire body of Christ should have the yoke of leadership upon them for disciple-making, for the apostolic, for the prophetic, for the evangelistic, for the pastoral and for the teaching.”
“Virtually every woman in Iran probably has faced some level of sexual harassment or outright rape or abuse, either by bosses or by family members, ” Joel Richardson says. “In a place of profound brokenness in that culture, the Lord is using the most broken. These women—in their healing and their restoration—are among the most deliberate and passionate [evangelists], now that they have been set free from so much of the pain they’ve had to endure.”
Women have not risen to power in the church out of a desire to rebel against authority, according to the documentary. They are gentle and submissive—and willing to risk their lives to obey the Great Commission.