GLENDALE, CA – No, this is not a list of 222 international ministries. It is an introduction to the faith-based 222 Ministries International founded in 1991 to take the Gospel to one of the most difficult places on earth: Iran.
222 Ministries’ Beginnings
Lazarus Yeghnazar and his wife, Maggie, left their home country not long after the Iran-Iraq war ended in 1988. Lazarus had been an ordained elder at the main Assemblies of God in Tehran since 1970 and was active in the General Leadership of the AOG churches in Iran.
By the time he was 25 years old, he had been arrested and imprisoned twice for promoting the Gospel. During the Islamic Revolution, however, he was also invited twice to conduct services for the hostages from the American embassy in Tehran.
The Yeghnazars attended a conference of Iranian diaspora Christians in Denmark in 1991. They were desperately longing to discover how the Lord would satisfy their longing for the unreached people in their homeland.
Inexplicably in earthly terms, both Lazarus and Maggie left the conference impressed with the phrase, “2, 2, 2.” As they searched the Scriptures, their attention was drawn to 2 Timothy 2:2.
“. . . and the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.”
That verse became the foundation for a ministry that is “aimed at raising and developing Christian leaders who can influence the nation of Iran at every level of society.”
222 Ministries’ vision is to see Iran transformed into a nation that bears the image of Christ at every level of society.
222 Ministries’ Target Audience
It is essential that we discern the difference between the people of Iran and their government.
- Iran has been an Islamic Republic since and as a result of the Islamic Revolution.
- Iranians are not Arabs. They are Persians.
- The government is led by ayatollahs, religious leaders whom Muslims believe are wiser and better informed than elected government officials.
- Iranians live under the oppression of Sharia Law.
- The leadership wants to conquer and dominate the world and to destroy Israel and the United States.
- Of the 97 people groups in Iran, 87 remain unreached with the Gospel.
- The government distinguishes between ‘ethnic Christians,’ comprised primarily of Armenian and Assyrian peoples, and true followers of Christ.
- The ethnic Christians are allowed to “practice their faith,” but only among themselves.
- Christ-followers are subject to persecution, imprisonment, and death.
15 million Iranians suffer from clinical depression. That’s more than 20% of the entire population. Another 10% suffer at least one psychiatric disorder.
Iran is home to the largest opioid addiction rate in the world. The country is also ranked among the highest in terms of unemployment, inflation, prostitution, and religious persecution.
True believers must meet in secrecy to avoid persecution. To minister the Gospel in Iran is very risky. Lazarus and Maggie have had to find ways to effectively reach out to the people of Iran, educate and equip the Iranian diaspora, and provide materials that explain the Gospel and train new believers on how to grow in Christ.
Understandably, 222 Ministries must structure their programs in ways that protect the security of those whom they reach. Among their successful ministries are:
- KelisayeJame is Farsi for Persian Community Church. The PCC church has been meeting online through proxy servers since 2018. The services have been averaging an attendance in excess of 4,000.
- The 222 Bible College was established in 2003 but was forced to close the following year. When it was reopened as an online school in 2006, 200 students enrolled. Today, more than 2,300 students are registered. Students can study theology free of charge, with total anonymity from anywhere in the world. Their real names and contact details are known only to the Bible College administrator in Europe.
- Church planting training is at the heart of all that 222 Ministries does. Because it would not be possible to conduct training in-country, intensive training conferences are held for expatriate Iranians throughout Europe and the United States. Every attendee is prepared for the opportunity to establish Bible-believing congregations in Iran.
- Sama TV leverages the technology of satellite broadcasting to send the light of the Gospel into the darkness of Iran. What is commonplace to us is working miracles in Iran. Sama TV produces hundreds of programs every year, bringing Biblical teaching, explaining the Gospel, and answering questions from public callers as well as offering prayer. 222 Ministries hopes to see Sama TV help Iranian believers to become passionate witnesses and reach out to their family and friends, and that hundreds of thousands would come to Christ through direct witness.
There are many other significant outreach programs that 222 Ministries uses to get the Gospel to the Farsi-speaking people. You can learn much more by visiting their main website, where you can discover the Lord’s blessing on this ministry.
Source: 222 Ministries, Official Website