"Pilgrim and Sojourner." - 1 Peter 2:11
| Iran's House Church Movement Witnessing 'Astounding' Growth; Hundreds Being Baptized|
The underground church movement in Iran is growing despite the regime's crackdown on Christians. Hundreds are being baptized in large ceremonies and people are praising Jesus for saving them from despair and suicide, according to Christian ministries working in the region.
Elam Ministries reported earlier this week that more than 200 Iranians and Afghans were baptized in a large service just outside the Islamic Republic of Iran, with eight different Persian-speaking churches attending.
The group said that 20 years ago, estimates put the number of believers in Iran at only 2,000–5,000 people, but new statistics are saying there could be anywhere between 300,000 to 1 million Christians in the country.
William Stark, International Christian Concern's Regional Manager for South Asia, responded to the report by telling The Christian Post that there have indeed been a number of indicators showing that the Christian faith has been growing in Iran.
"According to our contacts in Iran, the house church movement is seeing astounding growth. This is despite the intense persecution the house church movement faces from the government," Stark told CP.
"In fact, the Ayatollah in Iran has repeatedly warned against the house church movement, saying that it 'threatens the Islamic faith and deceives young Muslims.' The government has even dubbed evangelical Christians in Iran as a threat to national security because they are perceived to be backed by 'enemies' abroad," he added.
The ICC Regional Manager said that the watchdog group is particularity concerned over persecution that Muslim converts to Christianity face, as while the crime of apostasy has not officially been codified, new Christians often face heavy oppression.
"Still, in the face of this persecution, the Church is continuing to grow, which is something that should give people hope," Stark noted.
Other observers, such as Elam Ministries' Mark Howard, said in an interview with Mohabat News that his organization has been feeling a definite momentum when it comes to the rise of Christianity in Iran in recent years.
"We see incredible opportunity," Howard said, "reaching Persian speaking refugees in Europe, planting churches in Iran — people are so open right now."
"Every day we have many coming to the Lord. If you give a starving person food and water they will want to share it. That's what they find in Jesus. They are so hungry and thirsty for the truth. They are experiencing it in a powerful way. When they do they want to share it with others," he continued.
He listed several possible factors for the growth of house churches, such as disillusionment with the Iranian regime, given that the quality of life is not improving, and they're also disillusioned with Islam, pointing to the violence committed by radical Islamists.
Some of the newly baptized Christians have thanked God for saving them from deep despair, with one new believer, who wasn't named, revealing that he had been suicidal before Christ gave him hope.
"I never thought I would find freedom from my past, but Jesus has set me free," the believer said.
Notable Christians who have suffered for their faith, such as Iranian-American Pastor Saeed Abedini, have predicted major positive shifts for those who put their faith in Jesus Christ.
Abedini, who spent three and a half years in jail in Iran before being released as a hostage, told 100,000 people in Paris at the National Council of Resistance of Iran rally in July that the "resurrection of the Iranian people" is coming soon.
"My presence here proves that each act of resistance will be a victory. A victory for freedom. The message of God in the Bible says that we should resist the face of tyranny," the pastor told the crowd.
"We will soon see this rebellion in our country, in our hearts, and in our world, because Jesus Christ is bringing this message," he added.
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon
| 2016/11/16 13:32||Profile|
| Re: Iran's House Church Movement Witnessing 'Astounding' Growth; Hundr|
Praise Our Mighty God!!!
This morning I was reading in Galatians:
For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision avails anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. (6:15)
What glorious times we live in that we see the children of Hagar grafted in!
What wondrous love is this? That song comes to mind:
To God and to the Lamb, I will sing, I will sing
to God and to the Lamb, I will sing
to God and to the lamb who is the great I am
While millions join the theme
I will sing, I will sing
While millions join the theme I will sing!
| 2016/11/16 13:57||Profile|
| Re: Gospel Coalition Article About Church Growth in Iran|
Current Events / Mark Howard
The Story of Iran’s Church in Two Sentences
July 30, 2016
Everyone loves a good story. As Christians, we especially love stories that tell us how, when all seems lost, God makes a way.
One such story is about the church in Iran—and it’s one of the greatest stories in the world today.
It’s a simple story that can be summarized in just two sentences: Persecution threatened to wipe out Iran’s tiny church. Instead, the church in Iran has become the fastest growing in the world, and it is influencing the region for Christ.
As simple as it is, such an amazing story is worth examining deeper.
Growth Amid Persecution
The Iranian revolution of 1979 established a hard-line Islamic regime. Over the next two decades, Christians faced increasing opposition and persecution: All missionaries were kicked out, evangelism was outlawed, Bibles in Persian were banned and soon became scarce, and several pastors were killed. The church came under tremendous pressure. Many feared the small Iranian church would soon wither away and die.
But the exact opposite has happened. Despite continued hostility from the late 1970s until now, Iranians have become the Muslim people most open to the gospel in the Middle East.
How did this happen? Two factors have contributed to this openness. First, violence in the name of Islam has caused widespread disillusionment with the regime and led many Iranians to question their beliefs. Second, many Iranian Christians have continued to boldly and faithfully tell others about Christ, in the face of persecution.
As a result, more Iranians have become Christians in the last 20 years than in the previous 13 centuries put together since Islam came to Iran. In 1979, there were an estimated 500 Christians from a Muslim background in Iran. Today, there are hundreds of thousands—some say more than 1 million. Whatever the exact number, many Iranians are turning to Jesus as Lord and Savior.
In fact, last year the mission research organization Operation World named Iran as having the fastest-growing evangelical church in the world. According to the same organization, the second-fastest growing church is in Afghanistan—and Afghans are being reached in part by Iranians, since their languages are similar.
Three Changed Lives
The testimonies of Iranian men and women who’ve come to Christ are powerful.
Kamran was a violent man who used to sell drugs and weapons. One day, a friend gave him a New Testament. After reading for five consecutive days, Kamran gave his life to Jesus. When his family and friends saw his transformed life over the ensuing months, many of them also came to faith. A church now meets in Kamran’s house.
Reza was a mullah (a Muslim scholar) who hoped to become an ayatollah (a Shiite leader). One day, while studying at an Islamic seminary in Iran, he found a New Testament that had been boldly left in the library. Out of curiosity, he picked it up and was deeply shaken. Over time, he fell in love with Jesus. Today Reza is a trained church planter serving in the Iran region.
Fatemah’s earliest memories were of being raped by her brothers. At age 11, she was sold in marriage to a young drug addict who abused her and then divorced her when she was 17. Upon returning home she was raped again, until she decided to leave. On the streets she heard the gospel preached, and she trusted Jesus. In time, she married a Christian man. As they were receiving training in evangelism and church planting, Fatemah felt called to go back home and witness to her family. Her entire family repented and gave their lives to the Lord. The first church Fatemah and her husband planted was in her childhood home.
Fatemah felt called to go back home and witness to her family. Her entire family repented and gave their lives to the Lord.
I’ve had the privilege of hearing Kamran, Reza, and Fatemah share their stories. I’ve heard countless other testimonies that are equally remarkable. Each one is a painful and yet marvelous celebration of the gospel’s beauty. Each one is a powerful reminder that despite trials and persecution—perhaps because of the suffering—the gospel of Jesus shines and the church of Jesus grows.
Story God Is Writing
We’re living in a time when many Christians are suffering for their faith, particularly in Islamic contexts. People often react by preaching fear and hatred of the Muslim world. Yet the apostle Paul reminds us that we are to “rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer” (Rom. 12:12). This is our call.
And the story God is writing for Iran reminds us that we have every reason to rejoice and remain confident in our sovereign Lord and the power of his gospel. Jesus will build his church. It’s a promise (Matt. 16:18).
I ask that you would keep the people and nation of Iran in your prayers. Please pray for:
Many more Iranians to give their lives to Christ.
Endurance and joy for Iranian Christians suffering in prison for their ministry—many have testified to sensing the prayers of the global church while imprisoned.
More trained leaders to serve as evangelists, church planters, and pastors to disciple the many new Iranian believers.
Persecution threatened to wipe out Iran’s tiny church. Instead, by God’s mighty hand, his church is growing rapidly. Praise him!
Editors’ note: In light of the growth of the Iranian church, TGC has recently launched this Farsi-language micro site including translations of sermons and books by Mark Dever, Kevin DeYoung, John Piper, David Platt, R. C. Sproul and others. Help spread these resources to Farsi-speaking believers you know.
Mark Howard works with Elam Ministries, an organization founded in 1990 by Iranian church leaders with a mission to strengthen and expand the church in the Iran region.
| 2016/11/16 21:40|
| Re: |
Not only in Iran but everywhere in Germany there are Iranian fellowships popping up. Not knowing the language they usually just go to just any church, even the lukewarm soft gospel ones and build small Farsi speaking fellowships. Sometimes Iraqis and Afghans join them.
I heard many powerful testimonies how people got to know Christ in Iran and then decided to flee to Germany. I can't explain it. We did not labor for it. Someone must have prayed for it to happen.
| 2016/11/17 16:33||Profile|