Typically, all we know about Iran is that they are going nuclear, and we (meaning Americans) might be in danger from such a move. Sure, as Christians–as well as Americans–our interests are political. We ought to be concerned about Iran’s nuclear ambitions. However, we Christians have a much larger concern (as is pointed out nicely over on Big Circumstance).
Our larger concern is, of course, the spread of the Gospel. This excerpt from Operation World points out that the Good News is indeed spreading in Iran.
Disillusionment with the Islamic Revolution still grows and spreads. Thirty years of war, economic hardship, a strict authoritarian government and lack of freedom yield widespread disappointment, especially among the younger generation. Iranians’ sense of disconnectedness with their rulers – and even with their national religion – makes them exceptionally open to the gospel. The long and respectable history of Christianity in Persia, the Church’s noble suffering under persecution and the natural bridges between Shi’ism and Christianity make for unprecedented opportunities for church growth. There is a great hunger for the good news and for authentic spirituality.
The great hunger is presently on display in the growth rate of Christianity in Iran: nearly a 20% increase per year. That is both amazing and praiseworthy. However, it is also prayer-worthy. Operation World projects the number of Christians to be somewhere between 100,000 and 400,000.
Out of a total population of more than 75 million, Christians still represent a very small minority. Yet, as we have said, the numbers are growing rapidly. Christians are no longer “under the radar.” They are known and, thus, they are–as Christ said we always would be–targets for persecution (Matthew 5:10-11). Because the Christians are now present in recognizable numbers, they are being persecuted. As this story relates, the persecution has increased since the beginning of the year. They need prayer, and they are asking for our prayers.