Iran (MNN) — Iran’s coronavirus death toll is now past 1,000, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Only Italy and China have lost more people to the virus. Researchers say up to 3.5 million Iranians could die by late May when they expect the epidemic to reach its peak.
The Supreme Leader issued a fatwah this week forbidding “unnecessary travel”, but crowds still flocked to Qom to kiss and touch religious shrines for protection. As previously noted, Shi’ite leaders are exploiting the crisis to spread misinformation, highlighting the need for physical and spiritual truth.
The coronavirus is hampering efforts to release God’s Word in Iran, but leaders are searching for a work-around.
“I was on a call with our brothers from Iran; we were planning on getting together in Amsterdam as a ‘launch meeting’ to begin this translation process for a gateway language resource,” unfoldingWord’s David Reeves says.
“Because of the coronavirus issues and travel bans, we’ve had to cancel that meeting and now we’re trying to figure out a way we can do this via video conferencing technology.”
Coalition equips Iranian believers
Together with hundreds of partners, unfoldingWord is equipping Iranian church networks to translate Scripture and other biblical resources. More about that here. “The teams and the networks in Iran are just thrilled with the idea of being able to move this forward. They’ve been waiting for a long time,” Reeves says.
“We’re now on the cusp of something radically shifting by empowering these networks to do this themselves.”
With Biblica, 222 Ministries, and other partners, unfoldingWord is working to translate the Bible and other biblical content into Iranian languages. According to Joshua Project, 37 spoken languages – other than the national language, Persian – still lack Scripture. Each language represents at least one unreached people group.
Making God’s Word and other biblical resources freely available in Persian, also known as Farsi, equips Iranian believers with the tools they need to translate Scripture into their heart language. The translation process, Reeves explains, happens within the context of the local church and is part of a wider church-planting movement. More about unfoldingWord’s strategy here.
“We’re focused on coming alongside the Church to equip and establish strong, healthy reproducing churches. And then Bible translation becomes part of the spiritual formation of that church community,” Reeves says.
This approach accomplishes goals in two ways in Iran, he adds. “We’re empowering and equipping the church in a context that we often don’t have access to, and they typically don’t have access to the resources we offer.”
Find your place in the story
As the Enemy begins to lose his stronghold in Iran, your prayers are vital. Use the prompts listed alongside this article, or watch this short Prayercast|Iran video.
“Iran’s one of the places where Christianity is growing the fastest in the world,” Reeves says.
“The veil has been pulled back; they realize that Islam doesn’t have the answers, and large groups of people are coming to Christ throughout the country.”
You can also consider giving to support unfoldingWord’s work. Give to the Persian Gateway Language Project online, or contact the team if you have questions.
Header image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.