MENA region returning to spiritual roots, claims ministry leader

By July 3, 2019

Middle East North Africa (MNN) — Is Islam losing its place in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA)? Findings from a recent BBC News survey indicate a “non-religious” trend among thousands of Arabs living in the MENA region. Read more here.

In the past six years, the number of people identifying as “non-religious” rose from 8 to 13 percent. The greatest rise in the “non-religious” category occurred in people younger than 30 years old. More than 25,000 people from 10 countries were surveyed between fall 2018 and spring 2019.

Mike Ansari leads Heart4Iran, a partnership with more than over 100 active partners working together to bring the love and hope of Jesus Christ to the people of Iran. He spoke to MNN about the study and its findings.

“Most Iranians are calling us and telling us that Islam is bankrupt… and they are seeking different meanings to life, to spirituality, to understanding who God is,” Ansari states.

“I’m not surprised at all to see these changes take place not only across Iran but also across the Arab world. I think it’s about time.”

What’s happening?

Technically, Iran isn’t part of the Arab world, Ansari clarifies. However, the dissatisfaction BBC reports among Arab residents is the same thing Ansari sees among Iranians.

Dark blue indicates countries typically included in the MENA region. Light blue designates countries occasionally included.
(Map courtesy of Wikipedia)

“A vast majority of Iranians are tired of the state and religion having been mixed with each other. They are seeking a deeper meaning about life from [the] internet, from other peers across other nations,” he says.

“It’s very interesting to see the same trends happening in the neighboring countries.”

It’s all part of a bigger movement, Ansari continues. The MENA region is returning to its spiritual roots.

“The Islamic trends across Iran and Arab countries are diminishing and are being replaced by a true thirst for understanding who Jesus is, and was, in that region,” he explains.

“The first millennium of Christianity did not happen in [the] Vatican, or in the West or in Europe. The first millennia of Christianity happened in [the] Middle East.”

As noted here, Muslims believe a number of things about Jesus that can also be found in Scripture, such as Mary’s immaculate conception and Christ’s miraculous works. However, Islam teaches Jesus was only a messenger, not God’s Son. It also denies His crucifixion and the entire message of His salvation.

Ansari describes another common question Heart4Iran staff encounter: “How could Jesus be all about love when our god and our religion (Islam) [teaches] bearing arms and waging war against the infidels?”

Through a variety of platforms, Heart for Iran and its media arm – Mohabat TV – answer life-changing questions like these with Gospel truth.

How can we help?

(Photo courtesy of Heart4Iran)

Heart4Iran represents several dozen individual ministries working together to bring the hope of Christ to Iran and the region. Some of their efforts include discipleship, Bible distributions, leadership development, underground church growth, and satellite TV ministry.

Learn more about Heart4Iran’s work here.

“What is exciting is that [as we bring] the Gospel of love and acceptance through Jesus Christ to that region, we already have an audience that is already very receptive,” Ansari says.

Pray for blessing and favor upon Heart4Iran’s efforts to reach Iranians for Christ. As you pray for the Middle East and North Africa region, lift up individual “seekers” – people who desperately want to know the truth, but are unable to find it. Ask God to intervene and introduce these individuals to His Son.

“These trends that we’re looking at are an indication of people asking the bigger question: ‘where is my place in this world?’”

 

Header image is a screenshot courtesy of Love Muslims/Prayercast.

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