Despite the best efforts of the Iranian government and Islamic leadership, Christianity is on the rise in Iran, especially among young people. According to an encouraging report from Mohabat News, high profile Islamic officials are concerned that the increase of “foreign influence” in the Middle Eastern nation has resulted in an “exponential rate” of Christian growth over the last decade.
Ayatollah Alavi Boroujerdi recently confirmed reports suggesting there is a movement away from Islam in major cities, stating that “accurate reports indicate that the youth are becoming Christians in Qom and attending house churches.”
The inroads Christianity has made in the country are particularly unheard of given the efforts officials have made to promote Islam. According to Mohabat News, there is a “rigorous Islamic indoctrination” of young people via the education system and even their own devout family members. State budgets are dedicated entirely to promoting Islam within the nation—particularly in cities like Mashhad and Qom—but the attempts to eliminate Christianity, which is specified as the official religious minority in Iran’s Constitution, have been futile.
Islamic preachers have been sent into communities to “crack down” on those who have embraced Christianity and refuse to turn back. Converts face persecution, including long prison sentences and heavy fines. In July, the Center for Human Rights in Iran reported that in the previous two months, 11 Christian converts had been sentenced by the Revolutionary Court in Tehran to at least 10 years in prison via “a trial completely lacking due process” for charges related to “assembly and collusion against national security” and organizing home churches and preaching “Zionist Christianity.”
Despite the dangers, Christians in Iran continue to forge ahead. Iranian Revolutionary Guards released a report seven years ago identifying 200 house churches in the Islamic city of Mashhad, and today it is believed that number has greatly increased. There are also home churches that meet regularly in Qom and Tehran. As the Christian Post reported, mission group Elam Ministries has estimated there are as many as 360,000 Christians in Iran today–up from a mere 500 in 1979.
Ultimately, Islamic leaders believes Christianity is succeeding because evangelists are sharing a message of hope and love that is well-received in the war torn region.
“Today Christians present their gospel to our youth in the most appealing way,” a Tehran Imam told Mohabat News. “They gather in many neighborhoods across the city, including Bani Hashem neighborhood (in Tehran) where tens of homes have been turned into house churches which evangelize their neighbors.”
(H/T: Christian Post)