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Iran and the Gospel

November 2, 2012 No Comment

Note: “Today around the world more than 200 million are suffering for their faith in Jesus Christ. Each year, Christians in more than 130 countries stand in prayer with their persecuted brothers and sisters through the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP).” In 2012, IDOP takes place November 4 (though churches are invited to remember it on another Sunday in November if they prefer). The Canadian Lutheran is marking the event with this article focusing on one area of particular concern: the case of Iranians who convert to Christianity.


IRAN – The real bomb in Iran is not the nuclear bomb the Iranian government is believed to be developing, but the Bibles being distributed in that country. Iranians are coming to Christ in large numbers, and Christians need to pray for the ongoing growth and strengthening of the Iranian church.

This was the message delivered at Grace Lutheran Church (Osoyoos, B.C.) September 30 by a representative of Elam Ministries. Elam Ministries is a Christian organisation dedicated to taking the Gospel to the Iran region. It derives its name from the Old Testament name for Iran. Jeremiah 49:34-39 says that, in the last days, God will set his throne in Elam and restore the fortunes of Elam. Elam believes Jeremiah’s prophecy is being fulfilled in these days.

In chains for Christ

The Elam speaker (who cannot be named for security reasons) said that, prior to the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979, only 500 Iranian Muslims were known to have converted to Christianity, despite freedom of religion in the country. Following 1979, foreign missionaries were expelled, several Iranian church leaders were martyred, and it became illegal to convert to Christianity and distribute Bibles in Iran.

The Iranian government believes that, by persecuting Christians and arresting its leaders, it will prevent the church from spreading in Iran, the speaker said. The facts suggest otherwise: the more the Iranian church is persecuted, the more it grows. Since the Islamic Republic of Iran was established in 1979, more than a million Iranian Muslims are believed to have accepted Jesus as their Saviour.

The more the Iranian church is persecuted, the more it grows.

Rev. Farshid Fathi

On Christmas Day 2010, the government arrested 70 Christian leaders, following a speech earlier than year in which Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called for the eradication of Christianity in Iran. Although most of these Christians have since been released, one of them, Rev. Farshid Fathi, is still in Iran’s notorious Evin Prison serving a six-year sentence. His only crime is being a Christian.

“Please pray for Farshid,” the speaker said. “He is a shining beacon in Evin Prison for Christ.” There are currently around 20 Christian prisoners in Iran. The Elam speaker asked Christians to remember them in their prayers—that the Lord would strengthen them and enable them to share the Gospel with their guards and fellow prisoners.

The power of God’s Word

“Iranians living in Iran are the most open Muslim people to the Word of God today,” the speaker said. “People in Iran are desperate, because of the poor state of the economy, the political injustice, and the lack of freedom. Iran has the highest rate of drug addiction worldwide, Iranian women are oppressed, there are big problems with prostitution and abortion, and many are depressed.”

Iranian Muslims are crying out to God to help them, and He is answering their prayers. “Muslims are having dreams and visions about Jesus,” the speaker said. She related the testimonies of several Muslims who prayed to God to show them the way to know Him, who then met Christians, and were converted. She spoke of people who were given Persian-language New Testaments, who praised God, because they had been seeking the Bible for years.

In 2003, Elam published a new Persian-language translation of the New Testament. By 2012, one million copies of this New Testament had been given to Iranians inside Iran and in the Iran region. Elam’s vision is for a further million New Testaments to be distributed to Iranians.

Elam is now working on a Persian-language translation of the Old Testament and hopes to publish the complete Bible in Persian in 2013. It has translated the children’s Action Bible into Persian as well as classic Christian books. It also produces evangelistic satellite TV programs which are broadcast to Iran.

The closed land with open hearts

“Elam calls Iran ‘the closed land with the open hearts,’” the speaker said. “Iranian Christians have a passion to share Christ’s love with Iranian Muslims. The Christians know that, although they risk arrest for sharing their faith, the New Testaments they give Iranians are dynamite. The Bible is more powerful than the nuclear bomb the Iranian government is developing.” The Bible is changing Iran, the speaker said. “One woman who was offered a New Testament, refused to accept it, because she said: ‘I know that people who accept that book become Christians,’” she reported.

I know that people who accept that book become Christians.

“After an Iranian government TV program condemned the Bible in 2010, we had a record year for New Testament distribution in Iran,” the speaker said. “That TV program helped to promote the Bible, because Iranians are so disillusioned with the Islamic regime that they want to read anything the regime says is bad.” “It is God, not human beings, who is doing this amazing work in Iran,” said the speaker. “He is using the Word of God to change Iranians’ hearts, and to transform the nation of Iran.”

“Please pray that the Gospel will spread in Iran,” the speaker said. “Also, pray Iranian Christians will stand strong despite the persecution. God will hear our prayers and change Iran, as the door is open to the Gospel there. Also, as we pray for Iran, we begin to experience God’s love for Muslims, not just in Iran, but in our own countries of Canada and the US.”


The author of this article remains anonymous for security reasons. To learn more about Elam, visit www.elam.com and www.iran30.org, where you can order Iran 30, Elam’s guide to praying for Iran. The International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church provides resources for remembering Christians suffering for the faith at www.idop.ca.

For more information on Iranians embracing Christianity, read Christianity Today’s July article “The Other Iranian Revolution” by Lutheran authors Matthias Pankau and Uwe Siemon-Netto.

Image of Rev. Fathi is courtesy of Elam. Banner art is based on an image of the Catholic church in Tabriz, Iran released under the Creative Commons Attributed-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

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