Iranians Continue to Reject Islam in the Face of Persecution by the Government
September marks the first anniversary of the death of Mahsa Amini, the 22-year-old woman who was severely beaten by Iranian morality police after violating the country’s strict dress code, requiring women to cover their hair with a hijab.
Suffering head trauma, she died in a hospital in Tehran on Sept. 16, 2022, triggering widespread protests throughout Iran.
The demonstrations went on for months, even as the government used extreme force to try to quell them.
Chanting "woman, life, freedom," what began as a rejection of hijab law swiftly became about something much bigger --- a rejection of the Iranian government altogether.
Standing in solidarity, the people of Iran want personal freedom.
They want democracy and respect for their human rights. For a rapidly growing number of Iranians, they also want to openly express their chosen religious beliefs without fear of government persecution.
Mahsa’s death unleashed a tsunami of repressed resentment toward the nation’s government that has been building since the Iranian Revolution more than 40 years ago.
The regime’s greatest victims are the Iranian people who were sold the dream of a utopian future that never came to fruition.
Instead, the country’s leaders squander the people’s resources and opportunities, while suppressing their basic human rights, freedoms and any dissenting beliefs or religious practices.
It was in 1979 that Ayatollah Khomeini seized control of the nation of Iran and promptly imposed strict Sharia law, profoundly changing every aspect of Iranian life.
Specifically, he vowed to crush the Christian church in the new Islamic republic of Iran and promised "everyone will be Muslim."
Khomeini failed to deliver on his promise.
While more than 97% of Iranians are identified by the government as Muslims, millions of the people have abandoned Islam in search of hope and freedom.
Today, Iran is the fastest growing Christian church per capita globally.
Disillusionment with Islam has opened more hearts to the Gospel message, which is spreading across the nation via evangelistic satellite broadcasts and a movement of underground churches.
This pursuit of hope comes at a steep price, however.
To put fear in the hearts of Christians, pastors and church leaders are often arrested or imprisoned, charged with "acting against national security" and handed long jail or prison sentences.
Iranian Christians are often banned from education and dismissed from their jobs, limiting their ability to thrive.
For women, if discovered to be a Christian, she could be physically harmed, divorced by her husband or have her children taken away.
In other Islamic nations, persecution is mainly from family members, friends and neighbors.
They believe that a person who has become a Christianhas dishonored their family.
In Iran, however, people hate the Iranian government so much that they will not turn in their loved ones.
Rather, when one person comes to Christ, often many of their family members and friends do as well.
They don't have a full understanding of the Bible, but their heart transformation is clear and undeniable, which inspires others to join the fastest growing evangelical population in the world.
We Must Be Prepared to Help
With Iranians’ eyes wide open to the true nature of Islam, the landscape of faith in Iran is changing and will directly impact the nation’s future.
In Jeremiah 49:38, God promises to make Iran a Christian nation.
Right now, a perfect storm is brewing, and it’s opening the door for many Iranians to pursue a better understanding of Christianity.
Unless the government is overturned, state-sanctioned persecution, especially of religious minorities, will increase. We must be ready to help.
God wants no one to perish (2 Peter 3:9), but He can use all things to accomplish His goal of bringing His lost sons and daughters into relationship with Him.
It’s critical that we work together to reap the harvest of the revival He has stirred among the people of Iran.
There’s never a big victory without a war — be it physically or spiritually.
We must continue to pray for Iran as they brace themselves for the possibility of hostile conflict again.
Pray for Iranian Christians who suffer extreme persecution for their faith, and for new hearts to be opened to the Lord.
Dr. Hormoz Shariat is the founder of Iran Alive Ministries, which utilizes Satellite TV to reach people in Iran and the rest of the Mideast. They broadcast the Gospel 24/7 from their studio in Dallas. Dr. Shariat firmly believes that Iran will be the first Islamic nation turning to Christ. Dr. Shariat is the author of, "Iran’s Great Awakening."
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