All posts tagged: Iran

Tehran, Iran Credit: rasool abbasi17/Wikipedia

Iran: Despite persecution mass conversions to Christ continue

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 …

Muslim Shrine in Iran. You can see an image of the Ali Khomeni, the Supreme Leader of Iran, on the left. Photo: My life, the universe and ..../Flickr/Creative Commons

Christian population surging in Iran

Despite Iran’s heavy-handed crackdown, the Christian population in Iran is flourishing and growing rapidly. The country has a population of about 78 million. The official religion is Muslim, and on paper it allows other religions including Christianity. However, it is illegal for a Muslim and even members of other religions to convert to Christianity. Iran is an Islamic Republic and though there is an elected president, according to Iran’s constitution he is subject to the country’s “Supreme Leader” who is the highest ranking religious leader in the country — currently Ali Khomenei. Iran is made up primarily of Shia Muslim, the smaller of the two main branches of Islam, the larger being Sunni — ISIS comes out of this latter group. It is dangerous for a Muslim to convert to Christianity in Iran and aside from societal/family pressure can lead to imprisonment, torture and even death. As a result, most Iranian Muslims convert secretly, keeping it hidden from their family. One of those Muslims who converted to Christianity in Iran but didn’t keep it quiet …

Celebrating the Feast of Silvester in Burserberg, Austria. The feast which falls on December 31st marks the death of Pope Sylvester I who died on that day in 335 AD. The feast is celebrated in many European nations. Photo: BRainy Photography/Flickr/Creative Commons

Top ten stories of 2015

It has been an eventful year, so what were the top most read stories on opentheword.org?  From first to tenth, actually eleventh due to a virtual tie for last place, here they are: Did the Bible predict beheadings by Muslim extremists? With gruesome stories coming out of the Middle East about ISIS beheading Christians, it is not surprising many Christians are wondering if this was mentioned at all in the Bible particularly as it related to the end times. Not surprisingly it does. This story topped the list with 7,868 reads in 2015. Sir Isaac Newton predicted world would end in 2060 AD End times events are on many people’s minds these days. Researchers studying the writings of Sir Isaac Newton, who died in 1727 AD, stumbled upon his prediction when Christ would return. Newton studied the Bible and particularly end time events. Why did he date Christ’s return to centuries later — in our day?   One more thing, from his study Newton also determined that Israel had to be restored back to the Promised …

There has been a 1,800% increase in YouVersion Bible app being used in Iran Photo: Colourful Iranian restaurant My Life the Universe and/Flickr

God by the Numbers: The Bible, Finland, and the Islamic Republic of Iran

While the world argues and bickers about important things, the foundations have shifted under our feet. “Relevant Issues” are dinosaurs, and we don’t see it. A church in Oklahoma has published a Bible app YouVersion, now downloaded 200 million times. One business estimate in 2014 said it might be worth 200 million dollars. They reached 100 million downloads in 2013 and 200 million in 2015. Have you ever been to Finland? Me neither; but while the world was fascinated with old European stuff in London, Paris and Rome, some people up north in the Finland woods moved the world. And they don’t get much credit. When DOS, MS Windows and Mac OS dominated the computer business, scientists quietly continued with UNIX, an operating system that belonged to everyone. Only serious nerds cared, until Linus Torvalds in Finland made the LINUX core into a free operating system that resembled Windows. Linus UNIX is Linux and it is free. Then the big money people got involved. Apple is possibly still the wealthiest corporation in the world, and …

Middle East hit by apocalyptic heat wave? Photo: Bedouins crossing Liwa desert, United Arab Emirates/Flickr/Globovision

Did the Bible predict the searing heat in the Middle East?

On July 31, 2015, temperatures in the city of Bandar Mahshahr, Iran hit a blistering 165F (74C), once you factored in the humid “feels-like” index. The air temperature was  (115F) or 46C. In terms of actual temperatures the hottest spot that day was Kuwait City where the temperature reached 118F (48C). Despite the Middle East’s largely desert-like condition, most countries have high humidity due to the Persian Gulf. The heat blast covered several Middle Eastern countries including  Iraq, Egypt, Unite Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and even Israel. After 8 days of heat exceeding 120 degrees, the Iraqi government declared a four-day holiday for all employees, no exceptions. In an interview with the New York Post, AccuWeather meteorologist Anthony Sagliani described the unusual heat this way: “That was one of the most incredible temperature observations I have ever seen and it is one of the most extreme readings ever in the world.” The Middle East is not the only regions experiencing extreme heat. In June, a heat wave resulted in 600 people dying in Pakistan. …

Did Iran’s Ayatollah spur the brutal attack against the Jerusalem Synagogue?

[by Dean Smith] On Tuesday (November 18, 2014), the world was stunned to hear about the attack on a Jerusalem synagogue by two Palestinian cousins that left five people dead and seven injured. Three of the dead were Americans and one was from Britain. The fifth was a policeman responding to the attack. The two men — Ghassan and Oday Abu Jamal — involved in the brutal assault, lived in East Jerusalem. They entered the synagogue during morning prayers and though people tried to defend themselves, they had little chance against the terrorists armed with meat cleavers and a gun.

Why is the Christian population exploding in Iran?

Iran is one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a Christian, so why does the country have one of the fastest growing Christian populations in the world. Elam Ministries recently announced the release of a new Bible translated into modern Persian, the language of Iran. In its news release, the organization stated that in 1979, there were an estimated 500 Christians in Iran. Today, Christians number in the hundreds of thousands in that country. Speaking on behalf of Elam, David Yeghnazar said: “A very conservative estimate puts the number of Christians in Iran at 100,000.  The generally-accepted estimate is 370,000. Some believe there are 700,000, some over a million.”

Tehran, Iran Credit: rasool abbasi17/Wikipedia

Iranian Christians sentenced to 80 lashes for drinking communion wine

On October 6, four Iranian men were sentenced to 80 lashes each for drinking ceremonial wine as part of a communion service in their local house church. Alcohol is forbidden under Iran’s sharia law which governs the justice system and the death penalty is an option for any Muslim who converts to Christianity. Last December, Behzad Taalipasand, Mehdi Rez Omidi (Youhan), Mehdi Dadkhah (Danial) and Amir Hatemi (Youhanna) were attending a house church in Rasht, Iran, when the meeting was raided by Iranian police. According to sources, the portion of their name in brackets represents their Biblical names.