Dear Friends,

Thank you for praying with us this week for Dr. Sara Afshari from Iran.


 
The Islamic Republic of Iran is the world’s 17th largest country, both by area and by population. According to the 2011 General Census, 99% of Iranians identify as Muslims (predominantly Shia) and <0.2% as Christians. Nevertheless, Christianity is the largest minority religion in Iran and has the highest annual growth rate of any religion in the country. Although Christians are recognized by the government (along with Sunni Muslims, Jews, and Zoroastrians) and have reserved seats in parliament, persecution is commonplace, especially toward Evangelical Protestants due to their active outreach to Muslims. According to a 2015 study, there are between 100,000 and 500,000 Muslim-background Christians (mostly Evangelical) in Iran.

 
Growing up in Iran, Sara learned firsthand the risks of following Jesus in a country where Christians often face discrimination. While studying in the UK, she found a new way to build up Christ’s Church through SAT-7, a Christian satellite television network broadcasting in Arabic, Farsi, and Turkish across 25 Middle Eastern and North African countries and throughout Europe. As Co-Founder and former Executive Director of SAT-7 PARS, Sara developed Farsi-language media content for training Christian leaders and reaching those in closed countries. Even where police have shut down churches, Christians have found ways to tune into satellite programs that help them grow in faith and biblical wisdom. 
 
Through the Persevere Scholarship, ScholarLeaders supported Sara for her PhD in World Christianity from the University of Edinburgh. Sara’s research will be published in her forthcoming bookReligion, Media and Conversion in Iran: Mediated Christianity in an Islamic Context. The book analyzes 300 conversion narratives of Muslim-background Iranian Christians who came to faith through Farsi Christian satellite television ministries. Currently, Sara is a Research Tutor at the Oxford Centre for Mission Studies.
 
Sara shares the following message:

Thank you so much for praying for me. Prayers are always welcome. We never get enough of them.
 
Please pray for my new book, which will be available on March 28, that it would be received well, especially by Christian leaders regarding the research on conversion from Islam to Christianity. Pray that it would be a contribution to God’s mission, especially among Muslims. Pray that it would generate good conversations around these topics.
 
The Iranian New Year (Nowruz) begins tomorrow (March 20). Please pray for Iran, for the young men and women who have risked their lives to gain freedom and for the families who have lost their young ones. Pray for the country to see peace and prosperity. Pray for the message of Christ to be heard by all Iranians across the country.
 
Please pray for the Oxford Center for Mission Studies (OCMS) as we are preparing to celebrate 40 years of faithful academic service and scholarship. 
 
Many thanks and blessings, 
 
Sara Afshari