Iran (MNN) — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on Monday that the United States will be imposing the “strongest sanctions in history” on Iran in the coming months. Sanctions will target Iran’s energy sector, oil and gas exports, and gold and metal trade, to name a few.
Pompeo’s speech also laid out a list of demands that Iran would need to meet in order to avoid US sanctions. The list included calls for Iran to terminate their uranium enrichment program and ballistic missile program, and end support for Hamas, Hezbollah, Shia militias in Iraq, and Houthi rebels in Yemen.
The coming sanctions were set in motion when President Donald Trump signed an executive order earlier this month for the US to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal.
David* with Heart4Iran says these sanctions will understandably impact Iranian citizens, but there is another party the Iran sanctions could hurt as well — ministries.
“The biggest issue with the sanctions that are coming down on Iran right now are financial transactions. So ministries are trying to get work done or do something that would impact Iran, they have to be aware of how the money is getting into the country or how it is influencing activities that are going on in the country and the regulations that are in place.”
Thankfully, David says there are ways for ministries to comply with sanctions while still propelling Gospel outreach in Iran. And there are even sanction exemptions that ministries can take advantage of. But it will require more work.
“Under the sanctions, there are exemptions listed on the website for things like life-saving medical technology, agricultural products, humanitarian aid, and these are a lot of things that Christian ministries would possibly get involved with. But then you think about something like the Bible. That is considered an educational resource. These are things that are exempted under the sanctions, according to the website. Exemptions are allowed for that; however, you do have to file, you do have to comply. So there are some steps to take even if you are doing these exempt activities.”
Christians living in Iran are going to face difficulty on multiple fronts with the implementation of US sanctions. First, because they are Iranian citizens, they will have to deal with the economic fallout along with their neighbors.
But maybe even more concerning could be repercussions from the Iranian government. “There could also be a backlash,” David says. “Christianity in a lot of ways is seen as kind of a foreign influencer, so they can associate it with political movements and the sanctions…and that could come down against the Christians as well.”
According to the Joshua Project, Iran’s population is less than one percent Christian. However, God is moving through the Iranian Church, which is seeing an annual growth rate of 19.6 percent.
David shares, “The amazing thing is, because God is at work, the ministry is going to continue. House churches are working and the underground movement is alive and well inside of Iran.”
One powerful thing we can do as the Body of Christ is pray.
“Pray for the people of Iran, because they do suffer under things like sanctions…and the average person may have problems getting food on the table. So there is a lot of pressure. But in that pressure, there is also a lot of God’s work that is happening as a result of that. People are looking for solutions, they are looking for help and so the ministry world is actually moving forward.”
*Name changed for security purposes.