Saturday, October 15, 2011

Iran: “I was deprived of all my social activities because of my faith”

Three things I want to say:
1. I praise that the Lord Jesus has led this man to Him. I praise for opening his eyes in the year 2000!!!!
2. I thank the Lord Jesus Christ for technology. Because Jesus Christ has provided us with technology the gospel can get out to places where it's hard to reach people with the gospel.
3. I pray that God will keep this man safe in Iran and that if he has to face persecution for his faith, I pray that he responds with bravery.

10/10/2011 Iran (Mohabat News) – In recent years, Iran has become a key target for different religions seeking to spread their influence through the growth of modern media inside the country. The following article is based on an interview of one Iranian Christian artists who has used his art and his voice to spread the gospel in his homeland. As a result these efforts, he faced many difficulties which eventually caused him to flee Iran.

It seems that hunting down, harassing, torturing and even killing people who disagree with the philosophy of the government has become a regular habit for the Iranian authorities. The regime applies Sharia law vigorously in an effort to force the entire society to remain Muslim. They interrogate people and punish anyone who dares to leave the Islamic faith.

As a result followers of other religions face serious limitations with respect to spreading or sharing their own faith. But in recent years, use of the internet and other electronic media has grown rapidly in Iran, providing an effective means for spreading religious messages.

Arian Risbaf is a Christian convert who has used his art and recent developments in information technology to spread his faith and to share the "love of Christ" with other Iranians. But his case was not an exception and he was not immune from pressure by the Iranian authorities. His story is available below following an exclusive interview by a reporter of the Iranian Christian News agency, Mohabatnews.

Q: Please introduce yourself and tell us how long it is since you converted to Christianity?
I'm Arian Risbaf. I was born in Tehran, 1976 and it's now 11 years since I accepted Jesus into my heart.

Q: Why Christianity?
I was always feeling guilty because of my inability to fulfill the Islamic law. While I was known as a Muslim and I think it was not my problem only. I was trying to do my best to be good just like the other people. I was trying to live a good and proper life but I knew that almost all the things I did were not according Islamic laws and as a result I was feeling guilty. As a result of this guilty feeling, I decided to think less about religious matters in my life. Before too long I recognized that I was not a religious person. However, when I came to know Jesus and felt the love he has provided for all generations, all the guilt in my heart was wiped away. Then I received the peace needed to live a life of integrity. You know, it's more understandable and reasonable that the one who created us doesn't need to force us to worship him. Nor does he take away his love for us because of our human faults.

Q: How did you come to know Jesus?
During the Christmas season of 2000 one of my friends, who had believed in Jesus some years earlier, invited me to a church service. There, a churchman was explaining why God became flesh. The sermon so deeply influenced me that I began to think about how I could possibly repay God's love. [Before long I trusted Jesus to forgive my sins and be my personal savior.]

Q: How has this decision changed your personal and social life?
From the moment I heard the message of the Gospel, I became friendlier to myself and to others. The very same change made me more successful in my personal life and I began to be easier on other people. I no longer felt guilty because of being human and I experienced spiritual peace. All these changes are like a new birth to me.

Q: After you believed in Jesus, how did the behavior of other people change toward you?
At first, my parents, who are open-minded Muslims, asked me many questions because it was something new for them. But gradually, when they saw the positive impact that my new faith had on my life they easily accepted it and I experienced no further problem from them. Among other people, it was different. I didn't talk about my faith usually, but when some of them realized that I had become a Christian, they were very intrigued and in almost all instances they showed interest. I really believe that Iranian people have a positive idea regarding religion and the right to choose your religion. On the other hand, they saw the Islamic government always making problems for religious minorities. These very actions seem to prompt people to investigate religious matters more carefully.

Q: What kind of problems was the government causing you?
Apart from the security problems which came later, there were problems regarding my work. My job required me to be in contact with the ministry of the culture and Islamic guidance and also the government-run TV and Radio network (IRIB). Actually, these organizations don't allow religious minorities to work in jobs related to the culture.

I also could not appear openly in Christian communities in order to keep my job. At first I attended church services on a regular basis, but during the past 6 years I have only been able to attend house church meetings(Source).

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