|File footage Iran briefing (Cover|
photo by Associated Press)
Iran (MNN) ― The upcoming New Year hasn't even begun, and it has already been marked by globally heightened tensions with Iran.
The United States and Iran got into a spate over trade routes, sanctions, oil, and nuclear weapons as 2011 drew to a close. The Islamic Republic then launched 10-day war games in which they tested advanced missiles and torpedoes. In addition, an American federal judge this week declared that Iran, Hezbollah and al Qaeda were liable in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
The judgment came as the result of a $100 billion lawsuit brought by family members of victims of the attacks. With District Judge George Daniels' ruling, the 2001 attacks were caused by the support the defendants provided to al Qaeda. The findings also said Iran still supports al Qaeda by providing a safe haven for al Qaeda leadership and lesser members.
Evangelist Sammy Tippit says, "To see the specific [evidence] that they had, and hear the testimonies that they had, was just absolutely shocking as to the role that Iran played in it. It's really heart-breaking especially for the families."
Shocking, but not surprising. What's more, Tippit is sobered by another aspect of this case. "To know that there was an actual government, and not just a group of renegade Islamic fundamentalists that were doing this, but there was an actual government participating in this, this has to be heart-breaking."
Iran has been taking rogue action since efforts for revolution failed. As the government grows increasingly suspicious and hostile, Tippit notes that there is a big difference between the government and the people of Iran. "There is a huge portion of the population that does not want to go this route, and they are turned off with the way that their government is behaving--and they want freedom. I believe that's where, if anything is going to change Iran, that's what's going to change Iran is a people movement from within."
Efforts for change have created a backlash effect, though. Iran has been cracking down on dissidents, protestors, and anyone deemed dangerous to the regime. This includes Christians.
The Iranian Christian News Agency reports raids from different cities of Iran indicate that security authorities are expanding their anti-Christian projects to exercise tighter surveillance of churches. Tippit says, "The government has cracked down on believers. It has become very difficult for them. Many have been thrown in prison. What we have been told is that the television broadcasts have become very important because it's dangerous for them to meet together."
Prior to Christmas, the intelligence minister of the Islamic Republic called the house church movement a threat to Iranian youth. He warned of a new series of broad actions against the spread of house churches. The mayor of Tehran has gone on record with an objection to evangelical Christianity.
"More than likely, it's going to get worse for them," says Tippit, adding, "We just really need to pray for them, lift them up to the Lord because what has happened in the past year has gotten much more difficult for them."
Sammy Tippit Ministries has long had presence in Iran's Church. Their Gospel work caught the attention of the government resulting in a declaration of their ministry as an "Enemy of the State." However, "We developed a Web site and started doing some leadership training with Iranian believers outside of the country. We actually started a television broadcast which went for several years, and we discontinued it last year."
Due to the changes sweeping across the country, Tippit's team is retooling the broadcast to meet the current needs.
"We're starting it up this year with a whole new emphasis because there's been just incredible numbers of people who've come to Christ. We've been trying to help disciple them. The television broadcast has become very important because there's revival that has taken place within Iran."
It's a Gospel grassroots movement igniting at a time when Iran is tinder-dry. Tippit urges prayer. "That type of a thing can reach right into the hearts and the homes of the people. We're really excited about the broadcasts that we'll be having. It will be primetime and with a new station that is starting satellite."