Iran: where Christianity is growing fastest

Iran: The country where Christianity is growing fastest

This may come as a surprise to many, but Christianity is growing faster in the Islamic Republic of Iran than in any other country in the world. Tens of thousands of Muslims are abandoning their faith and are beginning to follow Jesus.

Experts say the ongoing political crisis and economic challenges are fueling widespread anger against the regime. Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani is promising to resolve the country’s economic, social and political problems after days of protests gripped the Islamic nation last month. At least 21 people died in clashes with police, and over 1,000 were arrested.

Mike Ansari says political turmoil is creating unique opportunities to share the love of Christ. “Many Iranian Christians have turned to us asking what it is they need to do,” Ansari wrote in an email. Ansari is the president of Heart4Iran Ministries, which is bringing 86 different ministries together with the goal of serving and blessing the people of Iran. He says with all the negative news about Iran, it is easy to miss the big and often untold story of what is really happening inside the Islamic nation. “God is at work in Iran. Jesus is building His church, the Spirit is transforming lives and the gospel is on the move.”

Today 4 satellite TV channels are broadcasting continuous Christian broadcasting into Iran.
Mohabat TV is the media arm of Heart4Iran Ministries. In 2006, Mohabat TV became the first 24-hour Farsi Christian satellite TV channel to beam gospel programs into Iran. Today, it is one of 4 satellite TV channels broadcasting continuous Christian programming. “Christian satellite TV broadcasts into Iran have played a vital role in the success of the underground house church movement,” Ansari wrote. “The significance of media strategy is that it by-passes security measures set by the government and reaches the people of Iran through their TV set or on their smart devices. According to World Mission, the house church movement in Iran is one of the fastest-growing churches in the world. It is the lifeline of Christianity inside this country.”

Recently 20 Iranians, many of whom accepted Christ watching Mohabat TV, traveled to an undisclosed location to get baptized. CBN News was granted exclusive access to the celebrations.

Recently 20 Iranians, many of whom accepted Christ watching Mohabat TV, traveled to an undisclosed location to get baptized. CBN News was granted exclusive access to the celebrations.
Ansari, an Iranian by birth, sat down with CBN News correspondent George Thomas for an exclusive look at the church inside Iran.

Why is the house church movement in Iran growing so fast?

“The church is growing because the people of Iran are disillusioned with Islam and they are looking for answers to life. They are not finding answers in the traditional forms of state religion or the faith of their ancestors. They are looking for new answers, they are not happy and satisfied where they are spiritually. It seems that a large number of these people are actually having dreams and visions about a shining man dressed in white far before we are out there telling them about Jesus.”

Is there a specific area of Iranian society that Jesus is touching more than others?

“The demographic that is responding to the gospel the most is the younger generation, who are very tech-savvy. These are people, anywhere from 18 to 30 years of age. They are online, they are following the world’s pop culture, they are very much plugged in and they are looking for answers. They want to belong to a larger purpose and meaning in life, and they are finding that in Jesus.”

The 1979 Islamic Revolution was supposed to usher in this great Islamic revival. Did that ever materialize?

“After almost 40 years of the Islamic regime, the average Iranian is realizing that Islam is bankrupt and Islam is not able to answer to their social, daily lives and the dilemmas they are dealing with. Iran is facing a host of crises, from drug addiction to depression to suicide to sexually transmitted diseases to human trafficking.”

Almost 40 years into the Islamic Revolution the average Iranian is realizing that Islam is bankrupt.
How bad is persecution against those who decide to abandon Islam and embrace Christianity?

“Iran is listed in Open Doors’ top 10 of most persecuted countries. The reality of Iranian Christians is that they cannot go out on the street and share their new faith with people. They cannot celebrate anywhere publicly, and they are constantly in fear of retaliation from the authorities. Becoming a Christian in Iran, especially if you are from an Islamic background, is illegal and is punishable by the legal code in the country. This is why we want people around the world to continue lifting up the persecuted church in Iran.”

You recently commissioned an extensive survey inside the country to find out how many people are watching programs on Mohabat TV. What did the survey results show?

“We had no idea that so many Iranian youth are following our programs. It appears that roughly about 16 million Iranians within the last 12 months have viewed one or more of our programs on satellite TV and also on their mobile devices. That roughly translates to about 20 percent of Iran’s population and that is an overwhelming number.”

Mohabat TV produced a map showing all the locations Iranians are calling the show from.
How many people call in to your channel and how many have accepted Christ since you launched the network?

“It is a rough estimate that within the last 11 years we’ve been able to connect with over one million Iranians through our call center. These are people who have contacted us wanting to know more about Christianity. These are people who have either become Christians or have had dreams or visions, and wanted to find out more about Jesus. Or people who have become Christians and they want to find out how to grow in their new faith and how to be discipled or how to start a house church in the country. In 2016, our call center processed about 700 contacts per day, which resulted in about 93 decisions for Christ per day. That’s roughly about three people every hour that confessed their faith in Jesus.”

Is satellite TV still the most important evangelism tool to reach Iranians with the gospel or is social media becoming even more important?

“In 2013 and 2014 when the Iranian Green Revolution took place, we realized the importance of Twitter. That was a glimpse into what was coming. In 2017, we realized that social media has fully arrived in the Middle East, especially in a country like Iran where especially the youth are actively using social media on their mobile devices. In addition, the numbers we’ve been getting through our survey is additional validation that this is a sound strategy for ministries to start focusing on.”

Source: George Thomas, CBN

Source: Joel News International – # 1067 | January 26, 2018

 

 

Iran: Fastest-growing church has no buildings

For the last few years, researchers have credited the underground church in Iran as the fastest-growing Christian church in the world. 

It has unique characteristics that defy comparison with churches in America and Europe, and in the opinion of some who know it well, the church in the West could learn by studying it.

The fastest-growing church in the world has taken root in one of the most unexpected and radicalized nations on earth, according to ‘Sheep Among Wolves’, an outstanding two-hour documentary about the revival that has taken place inside Iran. The Iranian awakening is a rapidly reproducing discipleship movement that owns no property or buildings, has no central leadership, and is predominantly led by women.

‘The movement is predominantly led by women’

The documentary was produced by Frontier Alliance International (FAI), which supports disciple-making teams targeting the ‘unreached’ and ‘unengaged’ within the 10/40 Window. There is a mass exodus leaving Islam for Christianity within Iran, according to FAI.

“What if I told you Islam is dead?” one unidentified Iranian church leader says in the film. “Many of the ruling class still follow Islam because that’s where the high paying jobs are, but the majority of the ordinary people love God and recognize that Islam is the problem. What if I told you the best evangelist for Jesus was the Ayatollah Khomeini? The ayatollahs brought the true face of Islam to light and people discovered it was a lie, a deception.”

Efforts by the ayatollahs to destroy Christianity have backfired, but have served to refine and purify the church. “What persecution did was destroy the churches that were only about converts,” the Iranian church leader noted. “Converts run away from persecution, but disciples are willing to die for the Lord in persecution.”

‘What if I told you Islam is dead?’

Often a disciple-making movement begins the first moment someone comes into contact with an unbeliever. “Everything is founded on prayer. We find people of peace through prayer. We even find locations through prayer,” the Iranian church leader noted. “Jesus has gone faster than us. He has come in their dreams or he’s come miraculously in their lives. When we hear this, we know that Jesus has gone ahead of us.”

Their emphasis is not planting churches; it is making disciples. “If you plant churches, you might make disciples. But if you make disciples, you will plant churches,” the Iranian church leader said. “It is obedience-based discipleship based on the authority of Scripture. Every time you read the Scripture, you must obey it. This is how people become conformed to the image of Christ and sanctified. They are not just reading the Bible for information. They are reading the Bible to get transformed.”

About 55% of the disciple-makers are women, according to the film.

CBN newsclip – November 2019 – 7 minutes

Watch the full movie – 2 hours

Source: Frontier Alliance International

Source: Joel News international – # 1149 | November 29, 2019

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