The 700 Club with Pat Robertson

Hormoz Shariat

Founding Pastor, Iranian Christian Church, San Jose, CA – founded five churches of Muslim converts

Former research scientist in artificial intelligence w/ Rockwell Int’l – 1980-86

PhD, computer engineering, USC; Married to Donnell, 3 children


Hormoz Shariat: Bringing the Gospel to Iran

By The 700 Club

CBN.comThe Real Revolution

Broadcasting the Gospel into Iran was never something Hormoz thought he would do. He was one of the students who marched in the streets against the Shah of Iran.

Donnell, an American, met Hormoz through Hormoz's brother, who had studied in the United States earlier. Donnell later went to Iran where she met Hormoz. Though she grew up in church, Donnell converted to Islam and they married. In 1979 Hormoz and Donnell came to the United States to attend USC, and while here, Ayottollah Khomeni came to power.

Hormoz was a good student but felt something was lacking in his life. "I was looking for the answer in politics," he says, not having found what he needed in Islam. He tried to be a "good person" but still felt empty.

His unrest was also exacerbated by his loveless marriage. The marriage had deteriorated to such a point that they had set a date to divorce – Oct 1,1980. "I searched my heart and thought I needed more," Hormoz says. "Maybe there was a spiritual side to life that I was missing." Divorce wouldn’t answer the emptiness in his heart, he says.

Being a research scientist, Hormoz then reasoned that he could search out the meaning of life, and in July he began reading the Koran. As an "independent thinker," he read the Koran, got some answers, but still felt empty.

For the sake of intellectual honesty, he got a Bible and started to read that. Donnell had one but never read it, he says. At first he thought Jesus would be like the figure in the Koran, but the more he read it, the more he realized that "Jesus didn’t look like the prophet in the Koran." Jesus seemed strong and confident.

Hormoz liked his teachings, especially the Sermon on the Mount, but they were troubling to accept. "I liked Him and I didn’t like Him," Hormoz says. The Sermon was nice but not practical. Who can live like that? "God used that," he says. "This convicted me. If this is the standard, we’re all sinners." Hormoz was in a tortuous state for some time. He couldn’t accept or not accept Christ. He would throw the Bible away only to go back and retrieve it. He knew he had to get to the end of this.

Donnell saw him studying these books. In the meantime, she was unhappy as well. While working late one night at her job, the Guatemalan janitor who barely spoke English witnessed to her. He told her that Jesus loved her. When Hormoz told her what he was doing, Donnell said the janitor had invited them to his church, Church of the Open Door. They went, and were befriended by someone who invited them to their home and explained the full Gospel. Donnell didn’t want to go to hell and so she accepted Christ. Hormoz kept attending church but was full of questions that he eventually brought to the pastor. Though many questions were unanswered, the pastor told him to accept Christ "on what you do know." Hormoz accepted Christ and everything made sense!

On Oct 1, he went back to the pastor to discuss the impending divorce and was shocked when he saw the Scripture about God hating divorce. Divorce is a lot easier in Islam, he says. God did a miracle in their marriage, he says. By faith they stayed together and the Lord gradually changed them. "There was no love, but God created love because He is a Creator," Hormoz says. They have been married for 26 years and have three children.

The Unreachable

Hormoz grew in the Lord and completed his studies in the late '80s. He started a Bible study and they prayed for Muslims. The Lord brought Muslims to them. By 1988 he started a church.

One day in 1990 he was in his office and was appreciating how good his life was. Working in the field of artificial intelligence was like a game to him, and he thanked God for it. But the Lord challenged him one day: "You want to be paid big money to play games the rest of your life?" "I decided I wanted to invest my life into something that was eternal," he says.

By 1991 over 100 Muslims came to Christ and Hormoz realized that the Lord was calling him into full-time ministry. In 1997 the Lord expanded the ministry when he began a 30-minute local cable show. By 2001, suddenly, the satellites opened up in Iran and they could broadcast in Farsi. Through many challenges the Lord has moved mightily in this work.

Hormoz never envisioned this for his life. They are now on the air nine hours weekly in Iran – one hour of primetime at 10:00 p.m. The response has been tremendous. The show is now one hour, and because some of the shows are on live in primetime, they can interact directly with the audience via e-mail, fax, and telephone. The show airs also in the United States, Europe, Canada, and the Middle East. Hormoz can conservatively say there are 50,000 converts that he knows of.

When many of his congregants go home to visit family in Iran, they tell of the mighty move of God and how so many are coming to Christ. When they witness, many are hungry and accept Christ on the spot. Many testimonies have come in. One is of a Taxi driver who talked with a passenger who said she came to Christ by watching TV. In Iran on a family visit, one church member saw seven women standing at a bus stop. The Lord told her to go speak to them. The ladies were shocked when she said God talked to her and four accepted Christ; two wanted to think it over.

Several viewers said that Jesus appeared to them in visions and they wanted to know what this meant. In a vision, one saw himself in a vast field in the wilderness. He was lost. Suddenly, a tall bright man like an angel appeared to him. When the man said he was lost, the angel pointed toward a direction. The man looked and saw a cross and Jesus was on it. At the foot of the cross, a river of light suddenly fell on him and he felt so much peace. He did not want to wake up because the peace left. "Now would you please tell me what is the interpretation of this dream?" he asked. Hormoz was happy to explain this to him. The big challenge now is to train leaders in the home churches.

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