ICC Note: With violence following Christians throughout the Middle East and governments brutally repressing the church, it can be hard to look past the persecution. However, a closer look at the church in Iran brings an encouraging note to the recent wave of arrests. A revival is taking place in Iran, bringing many to Jesus Christ, though at great costs as many are forced to leave the country or risk arrest. Local house churches have celebrated baptisms, salvation, and a renewed faith. This comes as an encouragement that through the tribulation and persecution, the church is not dead in Iran but continues to grow among its believers.
07/29/14 Iran (CBN News) – When we think of Iran, scenes of mobs shouting “death to America,” blindfolded hostages, and radical leaders demanding nuclear technology come to mind.
But there’s another side of the country: Iranians who love America, Israel, and Jesus Christ.
CBN News Middle East Bureau Chief Chris Mitchell met and talked with some of these Iranian believers outside of their country in central Turkey.
When someone gets baptized in this house church, people clap and cheer like fans at a World Cup match. While they’ve suffered persecution and often fled for their lies, they still possess an infectious and joyous faith like Iranian believer Raizal.
“Growing up I wanted to say I grew up [with] Jesus Christ,” Raizal told CBN News. “Every time, His name was in my mind. And the next moment I started liking Christianity.”
“It was really sweet to me, the feelings, the stories, everything. So by the time I was 15, I believed in Him and I said I want to be a Christian,” he said.
Many Iranian refugees have fled Iran and come here to Turkey where they can seek refugee status with the United Nations. Some say it’s just like coming out of the darkness.
“[It’s] totally different from Iran,” Iranian Christian Afshin told CBN News. “I can privilege [speak about] God’s Word to other guys. I can freely praise the Lord. I can easily go to church. It’s completely different.”
Pastor Saeed’s Church
Afshin attended the church led by American Pastor Saeed Abedini, who is still languishing in an Iranian prison after nearly than two years.
Following his arrest in the summer of 2012, the church disbanded. Later Afshin found himself on the run.
“As a result, I came out of Iran because day by day it was more difficult and it was more risky for me also,” he explained.
“I had to change our home because I was sure that one day they would realize my home as an underground house church,” he continued. “They would recognize it; the intelligence services would recognize it.”