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."
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
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."
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
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."