In the age of the Internet, radio is helping spread the Gospel in the Middle East. The Michigan-based ministry Words of Hope (WOH) broadcasts an hourlong daily radio program in Farsi for Christians and Muslims in Iran.
David Bast, president of WOH, told The Christian Post that "radio continues to be a powerful tool that often we overlook because it's old fashioned. It's not the newest technology, it's not sexy, but it's a powerful medium because it can avoid gatekeepers."
Since the Arab Spring, many young Iranians are looking for alternatives to Islam. There has "been a reaction against Islam because of the government that's in place," he noted, adding that "a great number of the younger generation is questioning Islam itself." He stressed the importance or reaching Iranians through radio at such a time.
While the Iranian government has made some attempts to jam the WOH radio signal, they are largely unable to censor it, since it is broadcast from outside of the country.
The WOH broadcast consists of a 30-minute daily Bible teaching program with music and testimonies from believers, and then a 30-minute rebroadcast. Bast told CP that the program focuses on Bible teaching for discipleship and evangelism.
But both the program and listening to it are dangerous endeavors. Christians in Iran who express their faith raise the risk of arrest from government run police forces. The reason Christians are persecuted so heavily in the country is because the government is involved, according to Bast.
The Middle Eastern country ranks fifth on the Open Doors World Watch List of the 50 worst countries known for their persecution of Christians.
Christianity is considered illegal and is outlawed in Iran. Bast said that Iranian converts to Christianity have the most trouble. In most Muslim countries those born into a Muslim household don't have the freedom to make a decision about changing their religion.
Those who do convert face "problems from family members and vigilante groups" who will turn them in or arrest them, Bast said. Iranian Christians know any expressions of their faith can heighten the risk that Islamic authorities might learn of their Christian activities.
Mission Network News reports that a husband and wife who were regular listeners to their Farsi Gospel broadcasts and ran a house church were arrested and interrogated for weeks.
After being released from jail they wrote a letter to a Words of Hope Iranian team leader, stating, "We want to praise God for your prayers. While we were in jail, we often thought about you and felt assured that in every situation God is using us. We believe that if we Iranians hear the true teaching of Jesus Christ, by the grace of God we will be able to stand firm in our faith no matter what trials and tribulations come. Jesus is building His Church in Iran."
In addition to their radio programs, Words of Hope also sponsors conferences for Iranian believers, and team leaders have conducted Christian weddings, and baptized new believers.