Persian New Year 2022: What Nowruz Means to the Underground Church

What is Nowruz and why do we celebrate it? Persian New Year, called Nowruz (Novruz, Navruz, Nooruz, Nevruz, Nauryz), means new day; its spelling and pronunciation may vary by country.

“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.

Persian New Year

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. Persian New Year, called Nowruz. 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.

Persian New Year, called Nowruz

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. Persian New Year, called Nowruz.

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

Persian New Year: 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.

Persian New Year

Prayer Focus

Our brothers and sisters need your prayers as they prepare for (Persian New Year) 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. 

Persian New Year

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.

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We believe the Scriptures, both the Old and New Testaments, are inspired by God and are the revelation of God to man, the infallible, authoritative rule of faith and conduct. (2 Timothy 3:15-17, 1 Peter 1:21)

We believe that there is one God, eternally existent who has revealed Himself as embodying the principles of relationship and association as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. (Deuteronomy 6:4, Luke 3:22)

We believe in the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ, in His virgin birth, in His sinless life, in His miracles, in His atoning death through His shed blood, in His bodily resurrection, in His ascension to the right hand of the Father where He intercedes for us, in His present rule as Head of the Church, and in His personal return in power and glory. (Matthew 1:23, Luke 1:31)

We believe in the creation of mankind in God’s image, and the fall of man, resulting in universal guilt and total depravity; and the necessity, therefore, of redemption and restoration; that all men and women are lost spiritually and face the judgment of God, that Jesus Christ is the only way of salvation, and that repentance of sin and faith in Jesus Christ is necessary for regeneration by the Holy Spirit. (Genesis 1:26-27, Genesis 2:17)

We believe salvation is received through repentance toward God and faith toward the Lord Jesus Christ. By the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, being justified by grace through faith, man becomes an heir of God, according to the hope of eternal life. (Luke 24:47, John 3:3)

We believe in the resurrection of both the saved and the lost; the saved unto the resurrection of eternal life in the presence of our Lord, and the lost unto the resurrection of damnation and eternal punishment. (Matthew 25:46, Mark 9:43-48)

We believe in the spiritual unity of believers in our Lord Jesus Christ and that all true believers are members of His body, the Church, which has the duty to preach the Gospel to every person. (Ephesians 1:22-23, Ephesians 2:22)

We believe that we must dedicate ourselves to prayer, to the service of our Lord, to His authority over our lives, and to the ministry of teaching, preaching, the prophetic, the apostolic, and evangelism. (Ephesians 4:11-13)

We believe in upholding the ordinances of the church of water baptism and holy communion.

The ordinance of baptism by immersion is commanded by the Scriptures. All who repent and believe in Christ as Savior and Lord are to be baptized. Thus, they declare to the world that they have died with Christ and that they also have been raised with Him to walk in newness of life. (Matthew 28:19, Mark 16:16, Acts 10:47,48, Romans 6:4)

The Lord’s Supper, consisting of the elements—bread and the fruit of the vine—, is the symbol expressing our sharing the divine nature of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:4), a memorial of His suffering and death (1 Corinthians 11:26), and a prophecy of His second coming (1 Corinthians 11:26), and is enjoined on all believers “till He comes!”