Salam celebrated Nowruz ( or Norooz ) on March 22 , the “New Day” holiday which commemorates the Persian New Year. Dating back 3,000 years, Norooz is rooted in Zoroastrianism–an ancient Iranian religion that influenced later religions. It is considered by Iranian and Persian people of all religions as one of their largest annual celebrations.
The Rev. Rennie Kaufmann, pastor of Risen Christ Lutheran Church in Plymouth, Michigan, gave the message in English, with translations in Farsi and Arabic. He called upon the mostly non-Christian audience to open their hearts to Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Kaufmann, who lived in Iran during his teenage years , linked the “real” Norooz to regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit. He said that by confessing that Jesus died on the cross for our sins, we then receive His forgiveness for those sins and are freed from guilt and given a “fresh start.” By Christ’s grace–not our own works–we are saved from eternal punishment and receive assurance of going to heaven when we die, Kaufmann concluded.
The evangelistic meeting included worship songs and was concluded with a sit-down meal of a variety of delicious Middle Eastern dishes prepared by the Salam ladies.