October 21, 2010
The Middle East, which has become almost synonymous with violence and Islam, is experiencing an unprecedented level of Muslims becoming followers of Jesus Christ, said Sam Yeghnazar, founder of Iran-focused Elam Ministries. There were only about 500 Iranian Christians from a Muslim background at the time of Lausanne I in 1974, he said. But over the past 30 years, more Muslims have come to Christ than in the past 1,300 years.
“Iran today is a closed land with countless open hearts,” said Yeghnazar. “It is the most open nation to the Gospel in the entire world. Tens of thousands of Iranians are turning to Christ.”
“Betrayed by the government, disillusioned with the religion, depressed by the prospects of the future, Iranians when they come to know the Lord Jesus Christ are completely transformed,” he said. “They proclaim Christ in the marketplace. Entire families, men and women, are coming to Christ.”
Two weeks ago, two of Yeghnazar’s people were imprisoned and within a week they brought six people to Christ, he shared.
Meanwhile, Palestinian Christian Salim (last name withheld for security reasons), spoke about hope for true peace in the Middle East through Christ. By understanding Jesus’ death on the cross, Palestinian Christians “shy away from the poison of hatred” and are compelled to explain to the world about peace and justice.
“Anchoring our identity in the messiah, we can open our hearts to angry Muslim neighbors and to fearful Jewish soldiers behind check points,” said Salim. “[There is] a divine one who can change stone hearts to flesh.”
More than 4,000 Christian leaders representing over 190 nations gathered last week for Lausanne III, also known as Cape Town 2010. The purpose of the Lausanne Congresses was to bring the global body of Christ together to discuss how to best evangelize the world. The Congress also discussed global problems facing the Church, including secularization, Islam, HIV/AIDS, prosperity gospel, and environmental concerns, among other topics. The conference program ended Sunday.