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iranWomen are playing a central role in the underground churches of Iran, despite the risk of rejection by members of their families and imprisonment by police. A 17-page report published by VOMC's ministry partner Open Doors titled, Women Rebuilding the Future of the Church, reveals that more women in Iran are involved in ministry than in many Western countries, even though women do not have equal standing in Iranian law.

Christianity is suppressed in Iran, and conversion from Islam is illegal, yet there are an estimated 800,000 covert believers, many of them from Islamic backgrounds. At least 193 of these Christians were arrested or imprisoned for their faith in the country last year.

Azada, a woman who runs a church, is in contact with Iranian women converts on a daily basis. She explains that through their relationship with Jesus, Iranian women gain confidence -- something not acquired from the honour-based culture in which they were raised. Women who become Christians discover that they "are loved, they are wanted, and they can come to God just as they are, without any shame."

"Many women risk imprisonment and torture by being active evangelists," Azada continues. "And because God gives them the strength to take this risk, each day new people -- men and women -- get to know the love of Christ and their true identity as beloved children of God."