Iran’s neighbors close borders over coronavirus fears

By March 2, 2020

Iran (MNN) — Countries have been closing their borders to Iran due to fear about the coronavirus COVID-19, and it’s throwing a wrench in ministry efforts to the country.

Last week, we reported the peak and decline of COVID-19 in China. However, the virus has picked up steam in some other parts of the world, especially Europe and the Middle East. Now, Iran has the highest number of coronavirus-related deaths outside China.

The problem

Iranians celebrating the new year by painting giant eggs. (Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

This is a problem for Bibles For The World, says Vice President Jeff McLinden. Iran’s new year is March 20, and many Iranians leave the country to celebrate. He says, “They often travel outside the country and go places where they can find parties to attend. They drink, they enjoy themselves. They’ll bring their entire family, let their hair down and basically find a way to celebrate their new year without the authorities watching them as closely as they do in Iran.”

Bibles For The World is involved with a plan to reach the revelers while they are partying outside Iran. McLinden says, “They’re going to be meeting with people in coffee shops. They’re going to be providing written Scriptures for them. And they’re going to be providing SD cards with the Gospel on them and copies of the Jesus film in Farsi.”

But the outbreak of COVID-19 has thrown a wrench into the plan. What McLinden doesn’t know is whether Iran will completely close their borders, keeping their citizens from leaving the country at all.

Security concerns

BFTW is providing SD cards for the plan since some are wary of taking the Bible or physical literature back into Iran. McLinden says, “We know that the Gospel in a variety of different forms can easily transform people’s lives.”

A map showing the countries bordering Iran. (Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

As for literature, McLinden says the festival atmosphere makes it difficult for authorities to keep track of what is being handed out. “If you’ve ever been to something like Mardi Gras, you know that there’s literature in abundance there.”

Iran’s fast-growing church

Iran’s church is the fastest growing in the world. McLinden says, “I think there’s a lot of concern in Iran, about the challenges they’ve seen with radical Islamic Jihad in a variety of different areas. They’re wondering why should it be this way? I think there’s an openness to the Gospel, the way there never has been.”

McLinden says there are many consequences for practicing Christianity in Iran. Many are ostracized, and some are even killed. And yet so many underground churches keep springing up around the country.

Pray that celebrating Iranians would be receptive to the Gospel. Pray that the teams sharing the Gospel would be safe and bold to proclaim the love of Christ. And pray for Iranians sick with coronavirus to recover and for the plague would stop.

 

 

A road running out of Iran. (Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

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