Honestly, I’m Only An Evangelist And Not An Apocalyptic Expert!

The year was 1979. The Islamic revolution in Iran was in full swing, the American embassy in Tehran was occupied and the American Christian End Times enthusiasts were printing out books like there was literally no tomorrow. One author, referring to an incident in Abraham’s life, called all Iranians “kidnappers” from day one. Another gleefully printed the above photo putting words in Yasser Arafat’s mouth saying, ” And then the Lord will put a hook in your mouth and we’ll all head for Israel—Ezk. 38″ According to these authors, Iran was hell bound. But was she really?

In the last two months, thanks to my publicist, I’ve had over a dozen radio interviews concerning my new book, Shame On You—rising from the ashes of shame to face guilt. The book is about my Muslim upbringing in Iran and it also contrasts my shame-based Iranian culture with the guilt-based culture of the West. The book has nothing to do with the End Times or what the Islamic Republic of Iran is going to do with her WMD once she develops it. However, that has not stopped some of the interviewers from asking my opinion about the future of Iran.
Questions go like this:
“So, do you think Iran has the bomb yet?”
“What do you think Iran is going to do with it?”
“Should Israel attack Iran?”
“What do you think our government should do?”
“Do you believe Mehdi is the antichrist? ”
I’m one interview away from responding with the following:
“Just because I was born in Iran doesn’t make me and expert on the Iranian government any more than you being born in America makes you an expert on what the US government should do with the military drone that is now in Iranian hands. I’m here to talk about Muslim evangelism.”
What’s more interesting is that almost none of these people have ever paid any attention to what the Lord is doing in Iran. They’re completely ignorant of the rate by which Iranians have been turning to Christ since 1979 when they were all supposed to be hell-bound. The rate is so high that it has created a great concern for the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Why such a fascination with death and destruction instead of love and salvation?  Why do we hardly hear the good things that the Lord is doing In the Middle East? As we start 2012, let us be thankful for the God-given freedom so many of us take for granted in this country, rejoice with those Muslims who are entering the Kingdom and pray for the ones who are being persecuted simply because they’ve called upon the name of Jesus for their salvation.
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Being In The Middle Is Not Easy

As a Muslim background believer, I have certain beliefs that put me at odds with some Christians. For example, I have no firm Eschatological stance on the part that Israel plays in the Second Coming. Some evangelicals automatically assume that I hate the Jews because of my Muslim background, or even worse, they might question my salvation as if it is based on a firm support of Israel rather than my faith in Christ.
The other day I was listening to Dr. Doda (not his real name), a mega-church pastor, being interviewed on a radio talk show. Our doctor is known for his partnership with the nation of Israel and has written books on the subject. During the course of the interview, he made the comment that the future of America rests upon her supporting Israel. When the interviewer asked why, he quoted what the Lord said to Abraham (Gen. 12:13), an interpretation that, for many years, has been argued for and against. I leave that argument to smarter people and theologians of which I’m neither. The conversation hit home with me when the subject of Iran came up.
Very confidently, Dr. Doda said something like, “As Ezekiel tells us, Iran and Russia will join forces to attack Israel and that’s when God will destroy them both.” I was rather shocked at the glib and nonchalant way this man of God was referring to the destruction of millions of people. “If what you’re saying is true, Dr. Doda, shouldn’t you be doing all you can to introduce these masses of humanity to Christ?” I asked myself. Not once during the interview was it brought up that in the midst of all this confusion and political unrest, our Lord has made Iran the fastest Muslim country coming to Christ. I guess that couldn’t be as important as what one should or should not believe when it comes to supporting Israel.
On the other hand, there are those Christians who question my sincerity in Christ and love for Muslims because of my stance against Islam as a religion. According to them, somehow being a Christian should prevent me from criticizing the religion of my fathers.  And since apparently I support Israel by cautioning the Church about the advancement of Islam in the West, I’m somehow encouraging people to hate Muslims. I guess this group of Christians assumes because I left Islam I automatically hate Muslims.
For almost 30 years I pastored the most unique church on the face of the earth. It consisted of 50% Muslim background Iranian believers and 50% Messianic Jewish Iranians. I find it rather amusing that a majority of those Christians who are so diligent in supporting Israel as the nation and people of God have never raised a finger to win one Jew to Christ. And, on the other hand, many of those Christians who are so concerned about me offending Islam have never had the privilege of sharing the Gospel with one Muslim. I have done both. I don’t hate Israel or Muslims and my record speaks for itself.