Each year, thousands of Iranians visit Turkey for the Persian New Year. They can celebrate more freely in Turkey than they can in Iran, where the government closely monitors behaviour.
Bibles for the World takes this opportunity to have conversations with the revellers about Jesus. John Pudaite says, “This year, as we geared up for it, we decided to go in for two consecutive weeks with two different teams and provide scriptures.”
“They could do outreach in the streets of Turkey as long as they were reaching out only to the Iranians and sharing with them the Gospel message.”
Turkish police did stop and question the teams. Turkey has cracked down harshly on Christianity in recent years, even deporting some Protestant missionaries. But since they were not sharing with citizens of Turkey, the police let them continue.
The teams had people from the U.S. as well Turkey. Pudaite says, “Interestingly, most of the those that were actually involved in the outreach were Iranian refugees themselves. And they were coming out of the refugee camps, joining with teams from America and jointly going out.”
Growth of the Iranian Church
Pudaite says 203 Iranians decided to follow Jesus on the streets of Istanbul. The teams also passed out 8,000 pocket-sized New Testaments. “Many of those people who receive them will be carrying them back into Iran. It’s not possible for us to do scripture distribution there. But God’s Word can still get in.”
Pray the Iranian Church would grow as those celebrating the Persian New Year return. Pudaite says BFTW will return to Turkey for smaller Iranian holidays in July and September.