Local Missionaries in Iran
Slightly smaller than Alaska, Iran is the second largest country in the Middle East. This Islamic republic borders Iraq, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Pakistan, Turkey, the Persian Gulf, Caspian Sea, and Gulf of Oman. One of the most mountainous countries in the world, Iran is also home to deserts and coastal plains. Tehran, its capital city, is the most populous city in Western Asia.
Known as Persia until 1935, Iran became an Islamic republic in 1979 with a theocratic system of government the gives ultimate authority to the ayatollah, commonly referred to as the Supreme Leader. Designated as a state sponsor of terrorism, Iran has received widespread criticism for its unequal rights for women and human rights abuses, including persecution and arrest of those critical of the government. In 2019 and 2020, police killed thousands of people who participated in protests demanding reforms or abolishment of the Islamic Republic.
Iran’s economy suffers from high unemployment, especially among women and college-educated young people, and low international investment. Two-thirds of its population is under the age of 25.
The Persian majority is very family-oriented and love gathering together to socialize and laugh. In public settings, they abide by the strict rules of Islamic dress and customs to avoid penalties, but they are very different in private—fun-loving and open-minded. While the majority profess to be Muslim—98% of Iran’s total population is officially Shia Muslim—only a small percentage of Persians are actual practicing Muslims. Ministry workers report a great openness to the gospel among them.
Unfortunately, under Shariah law, Christians in Iran are forbidden to evangelize, produce gospel literature, or hold church services in Farsi, the country’s official language. Technically, any Muslim who leaves Islam is subject to the death penalty. According to Open Doors, house churches are frequently raided and “dozens of Christians are imprisoned in appalling conditions.” In 2018, over 100 Christians were arrested in a single week.
Aware that many Iranian citizens are resistant to radical Islam and open to exploring God’s Word, an indigenous ministry has created an online interactive magazine for Persian-speaking children, which culturally addresses biblical and universal ethics. Support for this ministry will help them cover production costs.
Sources: Joshua Project, Open Doors, Wikipedia, CIA World Factbook
How to Pray for
- Pray that, despite the oppressive restrictions of Shariah law, multitudes of Iranians would come to know the one true Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
- Pray for boldness, courage, and wisdom for Iranian Christians as they seek to live out their faith and share the gospel with others at great risk to themselves and their families.
- Pray for those believers who are currently suffering in prison for their commitment to Christ—that their release would happen soon and that they would remain faithful to the Lord while in chains.
More stories from Iran
When native Christian workers collected a church offering to bring to a needy family, upon arrival they were surprised to hear the daughter tell them she knew they were coming from Jesus. She told them that two nights prior she had dreamt of being in a beautiful garden where Jesus told her He would send her help.
An elderly woman was in evident pain from an illness she had suffered for six years when native Christian workers visited her. After they had prayed for her for five minutes, she began to feel relief and got better as they continued praying. The workers shared the gospel with her and her adult son, and they accepted Christ’s grace.
Native Christian workers taking Bibles to a remote village where evangelizing comes with great risks met a man with a large tattoo on his neck. He was shocked when they offered him a Bible, as it was forbidden in the strict Islamic area, but he had been wanting one.
Three Christians told a seriously ill, elderly man in Iran they had come only to help him and offered him fruit and meat. He reviled them for 20 minutes, questioning why they had come and who had sent them. When they asked to pray for him, his only response was, “Never! Prayer can’t help me. I’m waiting to die!”
A group of new Christians has begun meeting led by a member of their ethnic group. Elsewhere, native Christian workers shared the gospel with a woman whose husband and child had accepted Christ, and a few days later she had a dream and called a leader, who along with his wife led her to saving faith.
Local missionaries are praying that people will be curious about Christianity and read the 30,000 New Testaments they recently distributed in 250 new towns and villages. One worker went into three states, baptized new believers and trained Christians to lead churches.