The Iranian police have been busy these past few months arresting Christians.
According to the National Council of Resistance in Iran (NCRI), in September the police arrested 25 Iranians attending a church service in the city of Kerman.
Other agencies reported similar raids in August when armed police arrested 11 Christians and confiscated Christian literature in Isfahan and nine more attending a house church meeting in Western Iran.
Police also arrested five Christians in Firouz-Kouth County where according to Morning Star News, believers fear this arrest was intended to extract information on leaders of the house church movement in that area.
Iran has one of worst records of Christian persecution in the world. NCRI reported the Iranian government executed seven Christians on Christmas Day 2015. The death penalty can come into effect when a Muslim converts to Christianity.
Just recently, the country’s sharia court sentenced three men to 80 lashes each for drinking communion wine at a house church meeting in Rasht. The three, that includes the group’s pastor, are also facing charges involving “action against national security.”
Yet despite this horrific persecution, Elam ministries reported that a group of 214 former Muslims — Iranians and Afghans — were recently water baptized.
According to the report, the group actually slipped across the border into a neighboring country fearing if they were caught being baptized in Iran it could result in their execution. According to Elam, eight Christian Persian groups participated in the mass baptism.
In a testimonial time, one candidate who went by the name of Sahar stated: “I never thought, I would find freedom from my past, but Jesus has set me free.”
It is incredible that people could talk about freedom in a country where their conversion would result in arrest and possible execution.
Because the church has been forced underground it is difficult to estimate how many Christians there are in Iran. When Muslims do convert they keep the news secret from even family members fearing they will turn them in to authorities.
In 2006, the Iranian government reported there were 109,000 Christians in the country of 78 million people. However, since it is illegal for a Muslim to become a Christian, it refuses to recognize any Muslim conversions to Christianity in its official numbers.
Most estimate there are between 300,000 to 400,000 Christians in the country. Open Door USA puts the number at closer to 450,000, while others have it even higher.
In an interview with Christian Post, International Christian Concern spokesperson William Stark says contacts in the underground church movement continue to report what he describes as “astounding growth” despite the persecution.
However, perhaps the best confirmation of Christianity’s growth in that country comes from Iranian government itself. Continued raids on the underground church reveal an underlying concern.
Stark adds that Iran’s Ayatollah “has repeatedly warned against the house church movement, saying that it ‘threatens the Islamic faith and deceives young Muslims’.”
The Ayatollah has even gone as far as to label Christianity a national security threat.
So how do you explain these conversions under this type of horrific persecution?
The Book of Revelation may provide the answer:
6 And I saw another angel flying in midheaven, having an eternal gospel to preach to those who live on the earth, and to every nation and tribe and tongue and people; 7 and he said with a loud voice, “Fear God, and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgment has come; worship Him who made the heaven and the earth and sea and springs of waters.” (Revelation 14:6-7 NASV)
An angel of God will preach the gospel in the mid-heavens in the end times. I don’t believe this will necessarily result in conversions, but I do believe this angelic proclamation will make people more open to the gospel. For more on this subject read: How the spiritual realm interacts with our physical world.
- Iran’s house church movement witnessing ‘astounding’ growth; hundred being baptized: Christian Post
- Iran Suspected of ‘Forcing Confessions’ to Obtain ‘Evidence’ against Church Leader: Morning Star News
- Jesus changes live: 214 baptized this week: Elam Ministries
- Iran’s unexpected revival spurs hundreds to choose Jesus despite rampant death threats: Charisma News
- Iran arrests 25 Christians in raid persecuting believers for their faith in Jesus Christ: Christian Post
- Over 200 Iranians, Afghans baptized as Iranian church sees ‘spectacular’ growth: Mohabatnews