Almost month since a 6.6 magnitude earthquake leveled the ancient Iranian city of Bam, local churches nationwide in America continue to pour money and aid in helping the many unfortunate Iranian civilians left homeless in the shocking devastation of the disaster. Currently, sources within the Iranian government have set the death toll at 41,000 despite daily reports of more bodies being uncovered from the rubble of the city.
However, efforts by the American Christian community in comforting the pain and grief of thousands of Iranians in this predominantly Muslim city have been hampered by largely anti-Christian sentiments within the Iranian bureaucracy.
"Even though (the) door opened and a lot Christian organization bought help, they got even more than they (needed). It's sad to say almost half of what the government received, less than half made it to the people," says a flustered Iranian program producer from Trans World Radio, a Christian media organization involved with broadcasting the Gospel through radio, Internet, and satellite communications. According to a source within TWR, because the resources "had to go through governments agents, the government [took] the money and they gave it in their name, not in the name of Christ. Not in the name of America and so on. This is Islamic help to your people."
In spite of much opposition from Iranian government, Christian outreach via local Iranian churches has been largely successful. "They are still going there every day and they are able to share the Gospel. Giving the money and the help and [they] saw, 'this is in the name of Christ that we give to you.' And, many of those people for the very first time they hear that Christians are helping them," comments an Iranian TWR broadcaster.
He was quick to add, "We have been broadcasting over 22 years right now to Iran and yes, I can honestly say, maybe a couple million have heard the Gospel, but several thousands have responded to it."
Currently, Trans World Radio continues in the effort of spreading the Gospel to this country largely closed off by Islamic orthodoxy for 25 years. The same Iranian TWR broadcaster expressed his belief that TWR will greatly turn the hearts of hard-line fundamentalists in the Muslim world. He concluded with this bold statement: "Iran is the center of Islamic propaganda. The people of Iran have turned away from Islam, but there is a small group around the city and the money are still running it. I believe if Iran changes, the whole Muslim world will be shaken."
Ultimately, only through the prayer, strong faith, and dogged perseverance of the Iranian Christian minority will such dreams become reality.