As of late, most headlines focus on growing U.S.–Iran tensions. January brought news of the assassination of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani. Then, not long after protestors turned their anger against the U.S., an Iranian missile downed a Ukranian passenger jet, and protest immediately turned back toward Iranian leadership.
Rising Gas Prices Lead to Rising Frustration
But discontment started much earlier than either of these episodes. Iran is “a country that is facing hyperinflation [and] high unemployment rate,” Nettleton says. “Basic food items have grown too expensive for the average person, and so many people are just eating bread and cheese.”
As if things weren’t bad enough, Iranian officials raised gas prices in December.
Actually, they tripled them overnight.
“Literally you wake up the next door day and they say, ‘Oh, hey, by the way, gas just tripled in price today, and also you can only buy a certain number of gallons. There’s a ration system in place,’” Nettleton says.
This decision affects many Iranian citizens, but Christians were especially wounded by this move. According to Nettleton, “what our Christian brothers and sisters are saying is, ‘Hey, the part of our ministry is getting in a car and driving to places to meet with believers, but also to evangelize, to share the Gospel, not just driving across our city or across town, but literally driving around the country, driving to other cities where we have outreach events and where we have other churches that we’re coordinating with.’”
That means that by tripling the cost of gas, authorities have effectively tripled the cost of ministry for the Iranian Church.
But it’s not all bad news. Nettleton points out that for nearly 40 years, Iranian officials claimed to run the country according to Islamic principles. That means “to be angry at the government brings about the idea that maybe Islamic principles don’t work,” Nettleton suggests.
That’s why Voice of the Martyrs’ partners, especially TV and radio broadcast groups, report local Iranians want new answers. “[They] are getting a lot of calls right now about ‘Okay, how do we deal with this situation? What does God [and] what does Jesus have to say about the situation we find ourselves in?’ So we are praying that this will be a time of great harvest in Iran.”
Want to join Nettleton in prayer? Voice of the Martyrs has just the thing for you: their 2020 Global Prayer Guide. With this guide, you can learn how to answer the first request persecuted Christians often make: “Pray for us.”
Nettleton calls the guide “a tool to help American Christians answer that request and to be able to pray, not just, ‘God bless persecuted Christians,’ but really to be able to say, ‘Okay, I’m gonna pray about the Christians in Iran.’”
The Guide answers contextual questions to help you get a better understanding of various persecuted Churches around the world. It clarifies governments, philosophy, persecution, difficulties, Scripture access, and more in order to help you pray specifically for local believers in different parts of the world.
Nettleton hopes “Every Christian in America will get a copy of this global prayer guide, put it beside your Bible, or put it in the place where you have your devotional time or your prayer time and use it throughout the year to answer that request of our persecuted brothers and sisters that we will pray for them.”
Header photo courtesy of Unsplash.