Pressure on Iranian Christians Increasing With Growth of Believers
The pressure on Christians in Iran is increasing, and many of them are trying to leave the country. The government is keeping a close eye on all Christians and the situation for the Christian community, which is growing, is intense.
One of the Christian leaders, Pastor Nader says that “things are increasingly getting more difficult. I am allowed to take care of my church members, but I am not allowed to receive other Iranians or to disciple them, while many are coming to Christ. Christian leaders are very careful and also feel uncertain with the growth of Christians and converts in the country. We can hardly handle the growing number of new believers.”
Nader is involved with new believers as they have no trained leaders to disciple them. He states that there are probably more new believers (from other backgrounds) than believers with a Christian background. Since the revolution in 1979 he has seen the official churches diminish from many members to less and much less now. Many people have left Iran and still, he says, “people are always speaking about leaving. Christians are looking for a better life elsewhere, than inside with God.” Nader also shares that he has to be very careful about visitors, who come asking about faith, calling him to ask questions, or to obtain a Bible. “They might be secret police,” he says.
Hami, another Christian, comments more on the secret police. “They call me regularly and ask questions. I know my phone is bugged.” Because of this, he mentions that “things are difficult” for him as a Christian. Hami sees in Iran a great hunger for God and for His word. And he sees people coming to Christ through personal evangelism and satellite TV.
“We are regularly visited by the police and asked what we do,” says Ramin, a Christian leader. “They warn us against speaking about Jesus, evangelism or giving out books. For some time a colleague and I had to attend the police station every day, where we were repeatedly questioned about their activities. This was no good experience. The way in which they spoke to us was very threatening.” He is happy with the prayers for the Iranian Christians from many countries “To know there are people praying in other parts of the world is so good, since often we feel alone and isolated.” There are some Christians in Iranian jails, but the exact number is unknown.
“We know about a Christian who is still in prison, after being found with many Bibles in his house. And we know about some more that are still in prison, but also some have been released.” Ramin explains that many arrests are mainly an attempt to crack down house fellowships, which are not permitted by the government. “When believers start meeting in homes the government becomes very unhappy, fearing there is some religious or political agenda being played out,” he says.
Father God, Iranian Christians have asked for our prayer so in response to that call we are on our knees asking for their safety and protection as they minister to the growing number of Your flock. Father we also join in prayer with them for discernment ask they seek opportunities to share the gospel. Father, shelter them, guide them and nourish them in Your Word so that many will come into a saving knowledge of Your Son, Jesus. Amen