Media is an essential tool for reaching Iranians with the gospel, discipling converts, and resourcing and developing leaders as they plant churches. Media offers safety and anonymity, as well as easy, free and fast access to a huge wealth of resources.
After the Islamic revolution of 1979, Christians faced increasing opposition and persecution: All missionaries were forcibly removed, evangelism was outlawed, Farsi (Persian) Bibles were banned, and several pastors were martyred. The use of media also came under strict control (learn more here).
Iranians cannot trust their own media and use satellite TV and social media to try and gain accurate information from outside their borders. The population is disillusioned and searching for an alternative. Despite Satellite TV being banned, over 70% continue to defy the authorities and use dishes to access media from outside the country. This is a powerful time to be in media ministry.
Transform Iran uses a full range of media to bring the message of hope to Iranians: TV, radio, Internet, social media and mobile apps.
Using satellite TV
Transform Iran pioneered Farsi Christian TV broadcasting in 2000. Since 2001, Sama TV has produced and broadcast daily TV programs from our dedicated media center and TV studio in Almere, Holland. Over 5,000 quality programs have been produced. These are broadcast via Mohabat TV which goes out on both Hotbird 13 A and E7B satellites (the Hotbird Satellite covering Iran and greater part of the Middle East and Europe).
Millions have viewed our content via Mohabat (Mohabat estimates a 16 million viewership), and many thousands via social media channels. We receive hundreds of calls each month in response to Sama TV programming. The follow up team ensure each person hears the gospel, has the opportunity to follow Jesus for themselves and be discipled in their faith. More than 20 full-time, part-time and volunteer staff work together to create Sama TV’s quality programs that offer hosting, preaching, worship, follow up, social media, as well as all the technical production that goes with live TV.
Transform Iran also broadcasts Live TV programs one hour each week on Friday evenings (8:30pm prime time Iran). These programs are fed live, via Mohabat TV satellite channel, directly from our media centre.
Transform Iran’s radio broadcast are done in partnership with Trans World Radio (TWR). Persian World Radio, went live in February 2021 and launched its website in December 2021. This is 24/7 worship, teaching and Bible reading radio station all in Farsi. We are working to expand the offering to the core heart languages of Iran.
All of Transform Iran’s core ministries have their own websites that support the work and offer archives of materials for seekers and believers to access. Our web team also produce websites that will meet specific demographical needs (such as youth). Most notably, we offer a Farsi Christian News Network which has proved to be an invaluable resource to Iranians wanting ‘real’ news. All in all, more than ten websites cater to specific groups with different needs, from seekers to theologians and scholars. More than 90,000 unique visitors made use of our various websites in the last year, with more than 800,000 page views.
Using social media
Just as in the West, social media is a powerful tool in Iran. Our media ministries all work to ensure bespoke content is created that supports the work via social media. The follow up team will respond to comments and queries.
Using mobile apps
The ongoing challenge faced in the Farsi-speaking world is to communicate effectively with seekers and believers in Iran. Phone-based SMS texting systems from outside Iran are blocked by the Iranian government. High speed internet connections are not available to everyone and access is closely controlled by the government. This means many depend on what, for people in the West, is very old technology, ’dial up’ access, which conflicts with modern data-hungry hardware and software systems.
Iran is a country of young people with over 60% of the population under the age of 30. These young people prefer smartphones as a more flexible way to run their lives. Our research shows that most internet users in Iran are moving away from browsing through websites as it is easier to be traced. They prefer to use apps.
In January 2021, Transform Iran launched ‘Cheshme’ – a unique outreach and early discipleship app. Cheshme means ‘spring of life/water’. The app gives access to a wealth of resources, all free to the user (almost 1,000 30-minute teaching videos, 300 audio messages, 200 books, 100 articles, 250 worship songs, 100+ teaching sessions for children, 75 Bible/short stories for children, 12 Christian movies, audio and text Farsi Bibles, audio dramatized Gospels of John in a growing number of Iran’s ethnic ‘heart’ languages, and direct access to Persian Community Church, Meeting Tent Prayer Rooms, Porpasokh Apologetics Center, online Bible College, and our E2GO English School). The app has been downloaded more than 2,600 times (mostly from Iran) and shows that it is in regular use by those who have downloaded it.
I’m so happy for having this user-friendly app with its simple design in my hand’s reach. God bless you for presenting this great tool which will surely help me grow in my spiritual life. Thank you!