A graffiti campaign originally proposed by Pastor Rasoul Heydari, who runs a Farsi Christian TV program called Everlasting Hope has been spreading in Iran among the Iranian Christian community.
Iranian people have been dealing with many economic challenges in the last few months. This has been putting a large portion of the population under pressure so that many are struggling to make ends meet. Additionally, Iran is going through a period of drought and is dealing with heavy air pollution in major cities. All of this is occurring while the government makes little to no effort to relieve Iranian citizens of their challenges.
People in many cities in the country have taken their protests to the streets in rallies to voice their protest.
Iranian Christians have also been showing their support for their fellow citizens and country through prayer campaigns.
Most of these prayer campaigns have been focused on asking God to liberate Iran and allow Christians to have freedom to practice and express their faith, in addition to praying for the economic and environmental challenges that face the country.
In the last few weeks, one of these campaigns, led by Pastor Rasoul Heydari has been calling on Iranian Christians to write the phrase “God is love” in Farsi on the walls of their city as an expression of their protest against the lack of freedom of religion. Pastor Heydari runs a Farsi Christian TV program called Everlasting Hope.
Pastor Heydari believes these protests have created the perfect opportunity to overthrow the Islamic regime in Iran and he has been asking his viewers to seize this opportunity. His openness to talk about the oppression by and the corruption of the Islamic regime has turned many government-run Iranian media against him.
Mohabat News conducted an interview with Pastor Heydari to ask him about this campaign and his motivation behind it. Below is a transcript of the interview:
– Please tell us a bit about yourself. You were born in the Islamic city Qom. How did you come to know Jesus and become a pastor?
Yes, I was born in Qom, but I don’t think that affected my path to Christ. I was a devout Muslim until I met the Lord Jesus and He healed my daughter. Then I read the gospel and believed.
– The graffiti campaign you began can be interpreted as a protest against oppression or even civil disobedience. What was your intention in suggesting this campaign? What is the purpose this campaign seeks to achieve?
This is a fight against oppression, in the sense that it promotes knowledge of the true God. I wouldn’t call it civil disobedience, as we’re not calling on people to disobey any rule.
Rather we encourage them to make the true God known to the people around them. We’re commissioned to give the good news of salvation to all. Many Iranian youth are turning from God because they don’t have an understanding of the true God.
– Was this campaign received well with people in a way you anticipated?
Yes, we’ve been receiving pictures and videos of people’s graffiti wall writings from different cities in Iran.
– Most Pastors both Iranian and non-Iranian have a view based on the Bible that Church and State should be separate. Therefore they suggest a pastor should not get involved in politics. What made you decide to take a political stance and ask people to get on board with such a campaign?
Like most pastors, I believe in the separation of church and state as a teaching rooted in the Bible. However, I also believe the Bible doesn’t call us to be silent in the face of oppression. The Islamic regime of Iran is an oppressive regime. We need to take a stance in the face of oppression, like many Biblical characters such as Gideon. Therefore, I am not a political activist.
I try to be guided by the Holy Spirit to be a voice for the men and women in the streets of Iran. I have no political agenda. My efforts are more humanitarian in nature and are aimed to spread the love of God. My compassion for the oppressed people of Iran is my motivation.
– Experience suggests under the Islamic regime of Iran it is impossible to have basic individual freedoms, such as religious freedom. Overthrowing the current regime and replacing it with a democratic regime increases the chance of having those freedoms granted to the people. Some think if the current Islamic regime is overthrown, it only worsens the situation. What is your take on this?
There’s no will or even intention in the Islamic regime of Iran to grant Iranians their basic freedoms. As we have seen in the last four decades after the Islamic revolution, the situation of Christians in Iran has only worsened day after day.
All Farsi-speaking churches have been closed.
About the future of Iran after the fall of the Islamic regime I hope we as Christians act wisely in prayer for security and peace in Iran.
– Are there any Biblical teachings that call on believers to take action for freedom?
There are many verses in the Bible that point to God’s will for the triumph of light over darkness. The Book of Judges chapters 6 and 7 and Daniel chapter 3 are a few examples. In the book of Daniel, he and his friends, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refused to bow before the king’s statue and resisted to the end in order to glorify the true God. In the New Testament we see Jesus stand against the Pharisees, calling them a brood of vipers (Matthew 23:33).
– As the last question, why are the Islamic media in Iran so much against you?
Yes, the Islamic media in Iran is very much against me, but I do not put my focus on them.
Source: Mohabat News