For more on my Lenten Focus, see my Ash Wednesday post. A quick summary is that I am spending Lent fasting and praying for the Persecuted Church and I invite you to join me.
Iran is one of those few nations high up on the World Watch List (tied at number 7) that is not in a current state of war, nor have they been for some time. It is a country where merely being a Christian for the vast majority of Iranians is a crime. According to the Iranian government, Persians are Muslim, and conversion from Islam is a crime, so any Persian Christian is by definition a criminal. Assyrians and Armenians are allowed to be Christians, but evangelism is also a crime.
According to Voice of the Martyrs:
The evangelical church in Iran is likely the fastest growing church in the world. Conservative estimates place the number of Christian Iranian nationals at more than 100,000. Persecution has intensified, and since 2010, authorities have arbitrarily arrested and detained about 400 Christians throughout the country. Iran’s state religion is Shiite Islam, and the followers of all other faiths are treated harshly. Protestant pastors are forbidden to preach in Farsi (the official language), restricting them to the Armenian or Assyrian language. Churches that did not comply with these restrictions have almost all been forced to close. Mission organizations are not allowed to enter Iran, and witnessing to Muslims is forbidden. Believers are discriminated against in education, employment and property ownership. Apostates from Islam face the death sentence. Authorities raid house church services, detain worshipers and threaten church members. The publishing, importation or reprinting of Bibles or Christian literature is illegal. However, technology is aiding the spread of the gospel. God’s Word is being shared via Internet chat rooms and Christian satellite TV.
- There are many Christians who are languishing in Iranian prisons; pray that they will be released this year
- That the Iranian leadership might loosen its tight hold on Christian activity
- That many more will come to the Lord through satellite television and distribution of Bibles
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