Why Christians Should Care About Protests & Persecution in Iran
Video from Radical
"Amid protests and internet blackouts, last week, our team traveled to Iran to learn about the challenges locals face under the Islamic government and why Christians should speak out not only for Iranian believers but all Iranians who are suffering injustices." from vidwo introduction
How Iran Became a Hotspot for Christianity
(April 2023) Iran: The World’s Fastest Growing Church
“In the past two decades, Iran has had the fastest growing church in the world—even though the Bible is illegal,” points out Nima Alizadeh, one of the many Iranian converts to Christianity in the last couple of decades.
Iranians like Nima are taught the ways of Islam from the day they’re born: “There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah, and he is the last and final prophet sent by God (Allah).”1 Nima was no exception to this rule, growing up in a nominal Muslim family who preached that Islam was the only religion—there were no other options.
Despite Muslims’ commitment to bringing up their children in the ways of Allah, the Holy Spirit is stirring the hearts of children and adults in Islamic-ruled countries to bring them to faith in Jesus. Nima and his uncle are evidence of this—his uncle becoming a Christian during his time in the United States and bringing his faith back to Iran to share with Nima, who then put his faith in Jesus as a teenager.
A. S. Ibrahim, another native-born Muslim who converted to Christianity, notes that “the growing number of Muslims is mainly due to higher birth rates in Muslim families.”2 If there really aren’t as many adherents to Islam in Iran and other countries controlled by Islamic governments, then what is the truth about Christianity in these places? And what does it look like to be a Christian there?
A Thirst for the Word of God
Professing faith in Jesus in a place like Iran is not for the faint in heart. Despite more people coming to faith in Jesus, Muslim hostility toward Christians has remained the norm. House churches are the only churches in Iran, because, of course, the Bible is illegal. And if a house church is found out, the consequences are likely to be as severe as what we in the West hear about in the news. These risks result in a lengthy process of sometimes multiple months of meetings with a house church member outside of regular meetings to determine genuine faith in Christ. Even one slip-up could put the entire house church in danger.
And yet, these risks haven’t deterred Christians from seeking out Christian communities.
“The thirst for God is out there. But Iranian Christian communities are filled with false teachings, specifically charismatic and shallow teaching of the Bible because there is so little access to theologically sound teaching,” Nima explained. In response, he started Revelation Ministries in 2015, an online ministry from Sydney, Australia, to serve Farsi-speaking Christians in Iran and around the world, before moving to the United States in 2018.
Nima originally established the ministry to post Farsi sermons he had given during his time as a pastor, with the hopes that these Christians would then be able to access quality teaching of the Bible. But he found that these listeners not only longed for quality teaching but also for discipleship. Out of this desire, Nima started a small Bible study group of about forty Farsi-speaking Christians. The response has been far and above what Nima ever anticipated.
“Just a few months ago we began our tenth discipleship program in the past four years, and each of these groups has about sixty believers attending,” he said.
A Need for Quality Resources
The Lord is on the move in the hearts and minds of countless people questioning their Islamic faith, and those like Revelation Ministries provide the opportunity for more people to come to faith in Christ every day. But Nima identifies an apparent need that comes with this growth:
There is a famine of Christian resources in Iran, because the government has so tightly restricted access to Christian resources of any kind. Iranians can sometimes get VPNs and go to Christian websites to read articles, but to have them printed in their hands is very limited. Last year I sent about 500 Farsi Bibles to Iran, but 200 were captured by the police and the gentleman transporting them was arrested.
Crossway has recently come alongside Nima and his ministry in his efforts to respond to this famine of resources. Due to the generous support of donors, Crossway has allowed Nima to translate Jesus the Son of God by D.A. Carson and The Ten Commandments by Kevin DeYoung. He explains that,
I chose to translate Jesus the Son of God because I think that any Iranian or Muslim believer right now needs to see the true Jesus. Carson, in his last chapter, addresses the Islamic view of Jesus. He doesn’t provide answers to the arguments of all the different views of who Jesus is and why he is the Son of God, but instead gives the reader tools to figure out the answers on their own. It’s very helpful for Iranians to read this kind of book.
These books are available for Farsi-speaking Christians to access online, where they can read or listen to the book. Nima’s ministry has also begun featuring various chapters of the audiobook versions on their new radio broadcast. Ultimately, they hope to be able to get translations of these books, and others, printed and available for sale on Amazon for those Christians living outside Iran.
The Constant Truth: God Is Working
Through partnership with Crossway, Farsi-speaking Christians around the world are gaining access to the Word of God and to theologically sound and biblically based resources. Nima is already in communication with Crossway about future books that could be published in Farsi. As many people turn away from the false religion they were brought up in, a new door is opening for the gospel.
“Many Muslims in Iran and beyond are looking for alternatives to Islam, and Christianity is the alternative for that. . . . What I am sure of is that God is working in Iran.”
from the article: How Iran Became a Hotspot for Christianity