As Faithwire has reported, violent anti-government protests have been underway in Iran since late last week. The demonstrations, which are predominantly made up of young people, began in response to Iran’s sluggish economy and rising cost of living. Twenty one people have died and several hundred have been arrested since the uprisings began last Thursday, as Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and his regime clamp down on protesters.
In the midst of this deadly quest for freedom are promising signs of progress for the beleaguered Iranian people. According to a CBN News report, Iran has one of the fastest growing churches in the world. Despite threats of persecution, Iranians are bravely turning against the status quo and seeking to learn more about Christianity. Late last year, some 20 people (who have all remained anonymous for their safety) secretly journeyed out of the country to be baptized and have now returned to Iran to spread the message of the Gospel.
Watch the CBN News report below:
Iranians are flooding the streets calling for the destruction of their radical Islamic government. Meanwhile an even bigger movement is happening…countless Iranians are giving their lives to Christ and you’re about to see it with your own eyes. Watch as more than a dozen Iranian believers get baptized in secret and declare Jesus as their true Lord. #CWNNOW
Posted by CBN News on Wednesday, January 3, 2018
“In Iran, if the government found out you were baptized, it would be automatic imprisonment,” one of the men involved in the baptisms explained. “So rather than do that inside their country, they go outside for a special event like this.”
According to the World Watch List from Open Door USA, Iran ranks eighth in the world for Christian persecution. There are nearly 81 million people living in Iran, and about 800,000 of them are Christian, but the dangers those in the minority face is considered “extreme.” As CBN News reported, once the regime discovers someone has converted from Islam, they take any means necessary to stop them from evangelizing.
Refusing to backdown from their faith, CBN witnessed men, women, and children taking their lives in their hands as they renounced Mohammed and announced their faith in Jesus Christ through baptism in a swimming pool rented for the occasion.
“I accepted Christ when I was 43 years old,” said one man who had waited 10 years for the chance to be baptized. “There was no way for me to get baptized in Iran because of the dangers we face. Today my faith is complete.”
A 16-year-old who took part in the ceremony said she became a Christian four years ago “after seeing Jesus in a dream,” and she felt the presence of God as she formally accepted her new faith.
“As I was getting baptized this morning, I felt the Holy Spirit come upon me in a new way,” she said.
Others explained that the opportunity to be baptized in Jesus Christ was “my wish before I die,” and experts familiar with the changing religious dynamics in Iran believe the growing presence of Christianity in the country will only continue.
“They want to tell the world they belong to Jesus,” said Mike Ansari, director of Mohabat TV, a Farsi Christian news network that broadcasts in Iran.
With more and more Iranians—especially amongst the youth—feeling disillusioned with Islam, a record number of people are tuning into Mohabat via their satellite televisions and mobile devices. Last year, Ansari said 16 million people—or about 20 percent of Iran’s population—watched one or more of the channel’s videos.
Ansari and others agree that, no matter how hard the Iranian regime has tried, it hasn’t been able to stop the spread of Christianity.
“There is a lot of good news coming out of Iran. We need to focus on that and celebrate that,” he said. “We are hoping the results that are being shared with the church in the west would encourage the body of Christ in the rest of the world that God is very much alive among Muslims.”