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Iranians watching Christian television programingIronically, one of the worst countries in the world for Christians happens to also be the country where the church is growing the fastest. The Islamic Republic of Iran has gained the distinction of being the leading country in the world where the church is growing at a rapid rate and greatly influencing the region for Christ.

Last year, the mission research organization, Operation World, listed Iran as having a 19.6 percent increase in its Christian population annually -- more than any other country in the world. Todd Nettleton, representing The Voice of the Martyrs USA, described the irony of it all on the organization's persecution blog. He noted that the Ayatollah Khomeini, the radical Islamic leader who took power in 1979, turned out to be "the greatest evangelist we've had in Iran." Statistics indicate that as many as 70 percent of Iranians have rejected Islam.

When Khomeini turned Iran into an Islamic republic in 1979, according to Open Doors USA, all missionaries were kicked out, evangelism was outlawed, Bibles in Persian were banned, and pastors were killed. Yet, the intense persecution has led to something truly remarkable. Fox News noted that despite the Iranian regime's crackdown on Christianity, a large underground church movement has been growing. Hundreds of Iranians have reportedly been converting to Christianity, and many are being baptized in underground churches held within private homes across the country.

A report by Open Doors USA states: "Many feared the small Iranian church would soon wither away and die. But the exact opposite has happened. More Iranians have become Christians in the past 20 years than in the previous 13 centuries put together since Islam came to Iran." This is backed up by statistics. "In 1979, there were an estimated 500 Christians from a Muslim background in Iran. Today, there are hundreds of thousands; some say more than one million. Whatever the exact number, many Iranians are turning to Jesus as Saviour and Lord."

Current Ministry Fund

By funding television broadcasts, VOMC is making it possible for a vast audience of viewers to be reached throughout Iran with the "Good News" of Jesus' love via satellite. VOMC is also working with partners to provide the Theology of Persecution course in Farsi to train Iranian believers to provide a proper theological perspective and understanding of persecution from a Biblical point of view.

Project Fund: Underground Church

Country Information

Designation
Persecuted

Population
85,888,910 (July 2021 est.)

Ethnicity
Persian, Azeri, Kurd, Lur, Baloch, Arab, Turkmen and Turkic tribes

Religion (%)
Islam (99.4), other, including Christian (0.3), Unspecified (0.3)

Leader
President Ebrahim Raisi (2021)

Government type
Theocratic republic

Legal system
Religious legal system based on secular and Islamic law

Source: CIA World Factbook

Pray for Iran

As the Gospel message goes forth over the airwaves, may the growth of the church continue to multiply despite persecution. Pray that the Iranian government will be open to change, allowing full rights and protection for its non-Muslim citizens as well. In the meantime, may those who are forced to flee the country find safe refuge and help so they can live in peace and worship the Lord with freedom.

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Iran News

  • Prisoner Located and Since Released on Bail
    Ayoub Poor-Rezazade - Photo: Middle East Concern
    Ayoub Poor-Rezazade
    Photo: Middle East Concern

    In the Persecution & Prayer Alert that VOMC published on September 30th, it was reported that three Christians had been arrested while attending a prayer meeting in Rasht, Iran, on September 5th. The report had mentioned that two of the believers were r

    ...
  • Arrests of Christian Converts During Prayer Meeting
    Morteza Mashhoudkari, Ahmad Sarparast, Ayoub Poor-Rezazade - Photo: Middle East Concern www.meconcern.org
    Morteza, Ahmad and Ayoub
    Photo: Middle East Concern

    Three Christian converts were arrested while attending a prayer meeting in the Iranian coastal city of Rasht on September 5th. Intelligence agents raided the meeting and took Morteza Mashhoudkari, Ayoub Poor-Rezazade and Ahmad Sarparast for interro

    ...
  • Proposed Law Leads to Concerns
    Underground house church - Photo: VOM USA
    Pray for creative solutions as Iranian believers spread the Gospel.
    Photo: VOM USA

    Finding encouragement in the Christian faith can be especially difficult in a country like Iran, where tight government controls prevent followers of Christ from meeting together. In recent years, modern technology cr

    ...
  • Presidential Election Brings Concerns
    Ebrahim Raisi
    President Ebrahim Raisi
    Photo: Mehr News Agency (cc)

    The recent election of Ebrahim Raisi as president of Iran has led to concerns for those monitoring religious freedom in the country. The election has been discredited by many since reformers or moderates were banned from running for the position

    ...