Persian in New Zealand

Persian
Photo Source:  Hamed Saber  Creative Commons 
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People Name: Persian
Country: New Zealand
10/40 Window: No
Population: 3,400
World Population: 42,334,500
Primary Language: Persian, Iranian
Primary Religion: Islam
Christian Adherents: 2.00 %
Evangelicals: 1.40 %
Scripture: Complete Bible
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: Persian
Affinity Bloc: Persian-Median
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

By definition, Persians (also known as Iranians) are an ethnic group native to Iran. The Persian language, called Farsi, is part of the Indo-Iranian language family, and is the official language of Iran. Dari, the language of the elite in Afghanistan, is a dialect of modern Persian.

Around 1000 B.C., Persian groups began to settle in the territory that is now Iran. Loosely associated Persian tribes became a more cohesive political unit under the Achaemenian Dynasty. Their unity soon made them the dominant ethnic group in the region.

For 1,200 years, Persia maintained a culture that became increasingly more complex and rigid. This laid the foundation for a successful Arabian conquest in the seventh century A.D. It was not until the Islamic revolution of 1979 that massive changes came both to Iran and to the Persian people.

Although the vast majority of Persians now live either in Iran or in one of the nearby countries, small Persian communities can also be found in many other nations around the world including New Zealand.

What Are Their Lives Like?

In the Middle East, about half of the Persians are farmers. They also make crafts such as hand- woven items, rugs, and pottery. In New Zealand, however, many have found opportunities to pursue higher education and explore careers in medicine, law, and other advanced fields.

Sometimes referred to as Persian Kiwis, they began to migrate to New Zealand following the Iranian Revolution of 1979. Having fled the oppressive government in Iran, they have found the liberal democracy of New Zealand to be much more tolerant. Women have greater equality in New Zealand society, and Persians consider it a good place to raise a family.
While they appreciate their adopted home, many Persians are concerned about maintaining their culture and language. To ensure that they honor their history and roots, they often seek out other Persians for community and support.

What Are Their Beliefs?

Prior to the Arab invasions, the Persian religion was Zoroastrianism. This religion taught that there was an eternal struggle between the forces of good and evil. Shia Islam became the national religion of Persia in the sixteenth century, at which time the ulama (clergy) began playing an important role in both the social and political lives of the people. Today, most Iranians are officially Shia Muslims of the Ithna Ashari branch. However, the Iranians who have migrated to New Zealand are usually disillusioned with state-enforced spirituality, especially in light of the hypocrisy which they saw in the Iranian government. For this reason, most are either Shia Muslim in name only or they are secularized. Fortunately, being in a place where there is freedom of religion gives them a chance to hear and respond to the claims of Jesus Christ. The main obstacle is a lack of workers.

What Are Their Needs?

Their view of God has been twisted by what they saw in Iran. Iranians in New Zealand need the chance to hear that Jehovah is a loving God who wants them to have life to the full (Jn. 10:10). They also need loving, patient ambassadors for Christ to introduce them to the One who offers life to the full.

Prayer Points

* Pray for a Disciple-Making Movement to flourish among Iranians all across New Zealand.
* Ask the Lord to call and send out people who are willing to share the love of Christ with Iranians.
* Pray that God will raise up faithful intercessors who will stand in the gap for the Iranian Diaspora.
* Ask God to strengthen, encourage, and protect formerly Muslim Iranians who have come to faith in Christ. Pray they will reach out to others.

Text Source:   Keith Carey