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The strange Christian anomaly


Baptismal service in Iran Photo: Elam Ministries elam.com

Baptismal service in. Iran Photo: Elam Ministries/elam.com

ANOMALY: something that deviates from what is standard, normal, or expected.

There is a strange anomaly that occurs when Christians are persecuted — the Church goes through an incredible growth spurt.

We can see it happening in the Middle East.

Last week, Elam Ministries reported that there have been large numbers of Iranians turning to Christ and is expecting over 450 water baptisms this fall.

Elam reported that over 240 Iranians were recently baptized in two services and another 16 in a smaller service. A fourth baptism is scheduled where it anticipates another 200 Iranians will be baptized.

Elam Ministries was started by Christian Iranians in 1990. Based in England, its mission is to strengthen and equip the Church in Iran. It conservatively estimates there are over 360,000 believers in Iran with most attending house churches. It has reported a remarkable growth in the Church since the 1979 Islāmic revolution.

Iranians dressed in white waiting to be baptized. Photo: Elam Ministries

Iranians dressed in white waiting to be baptized. Photo: Elam Ministries

The larger Iranian baptismal services are often day long events including a common meal, prayer, worship, preaching and communion. Those being baptized tend to wear white clothing.

It is not uncommon to have people attending these service spontaneously being saved and asking to be baptized as well.

Elam reported that at one service:

“Seven friends, who were there to support those being baptized, responded to a call to submit their lives to Christ for the first time at one of last week’s celebrations.”

Though the persecution in Iran is not as brutal as it is under ISIS, who is trying to set up an Muslim Caliphate in the Middle East, the Iranian government throws believers in jail often for bizarre reasons such as drinking alcohol during a communion services. In one instance, the Iranian government had a believer lashed 80 times for such an offense.

These arrests are brutal experiences for Iranian believers and can include lashings, beatings, aggressive interrogations and extensive time in solitary confinement. Christians are also thrown in with some of the more brutal criminals when imprisoned. It can have a traumatic effect on the believer when it happens.

But the Holy Spirit is not moving just in Iran. We recently reported on ISIS killing 12 Christians in Syria. Four of them including a young teenage boy were publicly crucified and another eight beheaded.

The ministry leader who reported these deaths stated that despite the brutal persecution interest in the Gospel is increasing under ISIS. The unnamed leader said:

“These things have been very hard on me. What wrong did those people do to deserve to die? What is happening is more and more people are being saved. The ministry is growing and growing – in the past we used to pray to have one person from a Muslim background come to the Lord. Now there are so many we can barely handle all the work among them.

When the church undergoes persecution, God moves.

The Apostle John records a very odd thing happening in the end times recorded in the Book of Revelation:

And I saw another angel flying in mid-heaven, having an eternal gospel to preach to those who live on the earth, and to every nation and tribe and tongue and people; (Revelation 14:6 NASV)

Though I don’t think this angel preaching the gospel in the mid-heaven necessarily results in people becoming saved, I am convinced at the very least this message results in people being more open to the Gospel.

This angel may also be the source of the dreams of Jesus that many Muslims are having resulting in them turning to Christ.

Is this what we see happening in Iran, Syria and even China where despite persecution, people are accepting Christ in greater numbers that ever before?

Does this explain the anomaly?

If this is true, then we need to begin sharing our faith because this angel will preach the gospel over every nation (not just Iran and Syria) and every tribe, tongue and people.

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