“At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, ‘Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.’ This phrase, ‘Yet once more,’ indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain.”Hebrews 12:26-27
Winters in Central Asia are harsh and cold. So when the days begin to lengthen, snow begins to melt, and flowers begin to bloom, people are ready to celebrate. For the Persian people, the advent of spring is also the beginning of the New Year. Persian New Year, called Nowruz, is a time of celebrating renewal. Literally translated as “new day”, Nowruz has its roots in Zoroastrianism, which was the dominant religion in the area about 3,000 years ago. This end of winter and return of spring represented the victory of good over evil. Like Christmas, Persian New Year is a time when friends and families dress in their new clothes, gather for feasts, and exchange gifts. Schools and stores are also closed to honor the holiday…for two weeks.
Shaking the House
About a month before the real celebrations begin, people begin preparing. In a tradition called “shaking the house”, families clean their homes from floor to ceiling in order to say goodbye to the old year and welcome the new one with a fresh start. However, for believers in Iran, “shaking the house” holds a much deeper meaning.
Our bodies are the temple of the Lord. His Spirit indwells us. He lives in us. When the Lord comes to shake our house, he shakes it violently, ridding it of anything that keeps us from covenental purity with him. For many in the underground church, it’s the pain of physical or sexual abuse or drug addiction. The Spirit comes with fire to burn away these things, leaving only what cannot be shaken. As he shakes our house free from these chains of bondage, he applies a new heart and installs a new mind. One that is after his own heart regardless of the circumstances or the outcome.
Walking in Jesus’ Shoes
For believers in the underground church, their transformation is so powerful, so real and raw, they are willing to put everything aside to follow him. They live every day in expectation that the Lord will answer prayers. That the Lord will show up in visions and dreams and go ahead of them to reveal himself to their families and friends, especially as they gather to celebrate the Persian New Year.
These believers hunger for the people around them, especially their loved ones, to experience the power of the Spirit. They have a deep desire for their friends and family to see and walk with this Jesus that has so radically transformed their lives. No threat of beatings, rape, or even death will keep them from sharing their testimony because they have chosen to offer their bodies as living sacrifices. They are willing to lay down their lives for their brothers and sisters if that’s what it takes for them to know Jesus. To them, it is an honor. To be treated in such a way means they are worthy to walk in Jesus’ shoes.
Celebrating New Beginnings
As these believers gather during this Persian New Year with their friends and family, they celebrate with an eternal perspective. They are preparing to have community with unbelievers, to sit at their tables and eat and drink, as our Lord did with Zaccheus, Matthew, his disciples, and others.
Believers in the underground church know that only God can transform their loved ones. Only God can pull them toward salvation. So believers become wise as serpents and innocent as doves, listening for the direction of the Holy Spirit and trusting him for every next move. And just as the Lord himself disappeared into the crowd, they too pray they will be hidden from sight should danger arise. Yet even so, their hearts cry “Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus!”
Fulfilling the Great Commission
Nowruz is more than a new year and a new beginning. It’s about living in obedience and completing the Great Commission- to make disciples and teach them to observe all he has commanded us. And they are holding fast to the promise the Lord made before he ascended to Heaven- that he will be with them always.
Our brothers and sisters need your prayers as they prepare for Nowruz. Please join us in praying the Lord would “make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”
- For the Underground Church to be filled with the Holy Spirit.
- For Iran to experience rapid multiplication among believers.
- Pray for faithful believers who boldly share stories of divine transformation and accounts of their faith.
- Pray for believers to be bold and courageous among their families. We believe Iranian families will come to know the Lord through the witness of one member.
- For Christians to be hidden in plain sight.
God is Moving in Iran
“My siblings and I grew up in a poor community in one of the major cities in Iran. My brother and I, from a young age, began using drugs. We both became addicted. We found ourselves wrapped up with the wrong people, in the wrong places and eventually in prison. I made the decision over a decade ago that I was done with drugs and got sober. I sought help and community through Narcotics Anonymous. My brother however, never stopped. He’s still using. NA was helpful, but I still felt empty inside. I was wanting more than what NA was offering me. Then one day, I met a guy who introduced me to the stories that he said really helped him experience God. From that day on, I strongly believed in the God of these stories. I started to see things in my attitude change. My wife and my sister saw the change. My brother could see that there was something different about me too. They all began to witness the transformation of my spirit. I was a man full of anger, and now I was practicing patience. I didn’t even pray for my anger to be removed, but God has transformed my anger issues. My whole family has witnessed God change me from the inside, and they know it is only because of God I have been made new.”An Underground Church Leader
Support the Underground Church
Despite the persecution these believers face, their numbers are growing rapidly to the glory of God. Because of your generosity, the underground church is able to reach more and more people in a dark, dying world. Please join us in supporting the underground leaders in Iran by becoming a monthly partner.