Kolbars are Kurds who live mostly along the Iranian border with Iraq. For generations, they have carried items over high mountain passes between the two nations. Their name means “those who carry loads on their back.” It is extremely dangerous work – every year, kolbars are killed by freezing temperatures, from falling off precipitous heights or after being shot by Iranian border guards. Desperation and a lack of job opportunities drive many Iranian Kurds into the life-threatening career: “They are a neglected people group,” said a front-line worker.

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An Iranian pastor who was released from prison in 2023, after serving many years for leading a house church, reported that God enabled him to work as an evangelist behind bars despite constant surveillance. He said that when he started his sentence, “I began to think that this was a dangerous place and that it would not be possible to witness to anyone.” But later he found ways to secretly witness to others and eventually led 13 prisoners to Christ. “During the recreation times, I would walk around in a spirit of friendship with these new believers and teach them how to grow in their faith and answer their questions,” he said.

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Farid placed his trust in Christ six years ago, but with no church to attend, he had not been growing in his faith. While riding in an elevator, a Christian woman gave him a magazine and said, “This is a gift for you.” Farid was startled and wondered if it was a special kind of advertising campaign. But after the woman left, he read it. “I came upon a page that really touched my heart,” he said. “On that page, they interviewed believers who shared their stories of faith.

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Front-line workers in Iran report an increase in the number of Christians being arrested, partly due to regional tensions and conflicts. “Persecution against Iranian Christians is rising,” a front-line worker said. “Every Christmas and Easter, officials usually arrest some Christians, but this year the number went way up, and we’re concerned about what might occur around Easter.” The worker mentioned that in the past, Iranian officials would occasionally arrest church leaders and later release them with a strong suggestion that the Christians leave the country.

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Darya was depressed and scared. Her much older husband had suddenly died of a stroke, and her 8-year-old son had become angry and violent. “I consulted with different psychologists about my son’s behavior, but nothing improved,” Darya said. “Once in the middle of the night my son came into my room with a knife in his hand. I was so afraid that I didn’t sleep at all that night, and I just kept trying to calm my son down.” The next day she told a friend what had happened. That friend was a Christian who prayed for her and gave her an illustrated Action Bible to give to her son. When Darya went home, she started to read the Gospels.

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On Sept. 18, 2023, Pastor Anooshavan Avedian, who is 61 years old with a wife and two children, was summoned by police to Evin prison to begin a 10-year prison sentence. Pastor Avedian was arrested on Aug. 21, 2020, when approximately 30 security agents raided his home while family and friends gathered to pray and worship. The group met in his home because the government closed their church several years earlier. Government agents confiscated Bibles and mobile phones, taking Pastor Avedian and two Christian converts to Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison.

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The nation is called The Islamic Republic of Iran, but a recent study shows less than a third of Iranians still believe in Islam! Iranians are looking elsewhere to find answers to their spiritual questions. Dr. Hormoz Shariat tells us why, sharing from his own experiences ministering to people in Iran, evangelizing and answering their questions. “More and more I see people of Iran say, ‘To have a future for Iran, we have to get rid of Islam,’” Hormoz explains. Hormoz is the president of Iran Alive Ministries and the author of Iran’s Great Awakening. He has broadcast the gospel into Iran via satellite television for 23 years. Iran has been led by Islamic clergy for more than forty years, imposing Islamic laws that control every area of life. The last few years, the numbers of Iranians finding salvation through Jesus have surged. Iran’s people desire change. They find Christian TV programs or online information, see changed lives and actions among Christian friends or hear the gospel in another way. Recently the battle in Iran has been over women’s head coverings following the death of Mahsa Amini. But Hormoz says the real issue is much deeper than clothing choices. As protestors on the streets of Iran chanted, “Women! Life! Freedom!” Dr. Hormoz broadcasts a series of sermons showing how Christ valued women, how He came to bring eternal life, and how true freedom is found only in Him. Hormoz encourages Iranians that if they want their nation to be transformed, individual people must be willing to be transformed first. Listen as Hormoz shares how our Christian brothers and sisters are being salt and light even amidst recent protests. “The greatest weapon we have against Islam is love,” he says. Hormoz shares testimonies from Iranians transformed by the gospel message, including one family reached through their son, who didn’t say a word but became a different person after finding Christ. “I didn’t get in television to be famous, to be admired. I wanted to love people and have influence in their lives and by God’s grace, He has given me that.” You can hear more of Dr. Hormoz and his wife’s testimony of God’s call on their lives and marriage in this VOM Radio episode: Part 1 and Part 2. Never miss an episode of VOM Radio! Subscribe to the podcast. Or listen each week—and get daily prayer reminders—in the VOM App for your smartphone or tablet.

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A young woman killed in September 2022 while in the custody of the Iranian religious police led to a spontaneous uprising. “Iranian women wanted their dignity back,” a front-line worker said. In Iran, girls as young as nine can be given in marriage, and a woman’s testimony in court is worth only half a man’s. Front-line workers report that the young woman’s death has caused many Iranians to continue to grow disillusioned with their repressive Islamic government and search for truth elsewhere.

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Nearly 60 Iranian Christians were swept up in a sudden wave of arrests across the country in mid-July, crippling ministry work. “Most ministries have stopped their activities,” said a front-line worker. His comments follow reports of three Christians arrested in Tehran on May 9, 2023. Agents of the Islamic Revolutionary Court arrived that morning with search warrants and confiscated mobile phones, laptops, books and pamphlets.

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The first time he went to a Christian church, during the time of the Islamic revolution in Iran, Mansour Khajehpour was a teenager. He went only to determine the best way to burn down the church building. But the woman who opened to door was caring and kind—and her Christlike kindness altered the direction of Mansour’s life. The woman pointed Mansour to a Farsi-speaking pastor. Over the months to come, that pastor answered Mansour’s many questions—but only one question per week—and gave him a Bible. At first, Mansour’s heart was hard, but over time God softened him until the day he found himself closing his eyes, praying in a loud voice and committing his life to Christ. Today, Mansour is the pastor of a church in Seattle and a leader in the Iranian Bible Society, working to get God’s Word into the Islamic Republic of Iran and to Farsi-speaking people in other nations as well. Listen as Mansour shares how three older missionaries made an impact on his life for the Lord and how he became involved—through his future wife, Nahid, who is now the Executive Director—in the Iranian Bible Society. Together they both experienced persecution for their Christian faith. Friends and pastors Mansour and Nahid knew well were martyred. Listen to Mansour tell how their examples were an inspiration, especially Pastor Hossein Soodmand’s deep love and respect for God’s Word. You can listen to past VOM Radio episodes with Rashin Soodmand and Gilbert Hovsepian, the children of Pastor Soodmand and Pastor Haik Hovsepian who were both martyred for their faith in Iran. Mansour will encourage listeners to memorize scripture and spiritual songs—which provided him great help and hope in prison for his faith. Pray for Mansour and Nahid’s continued work providing Bibles for our Iranian brothers and sisters, and for the persecuted church inside Iran. Never miss an episode of VOM Radio! Subscribe to the podcast. Or you can listen each week—and get daily prayer reminders—in the new VOM App for your smartphone or tablet.

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