The government of Iran has made a concerted, sustained effort since 1979 to eradicate the church. It has banned the Bible, closed churches, beaten and jailed believers and has executed a number of pastors. The irony is that in 1979 there were perhaps only 500 Christians in Iran. More Iranians have become followers of Jesus in the past 20 years than in the 13 previous centuries combined. Today there are hundreds of thousands of believers in Jesus in Iran, possibly as many as one million. The second fastest growing church in the world is in Afghanistan where many are being reached by missionaries from Iran!
One man named Reza was a mullah, an Islamic scholar, hoping to become an ayatollah. While studying in the library of an Islamic seminary he found a New Testament that someone had boldly left there. Out of curiosity he began reading it. It shook him deeply. Over time he put his faith in Jesus. Today he is a trained church planter. A woman named Fatemah was raped by her brothers when she was young, then sold as a bride to a drug addict when she was 11. The man divorced her when she was 17. She returned to her home, only to be raped again. She left her home and eventually heard the Gospel being preached on the streets. She put her faith in Jesus and later married a Christian man. Together they went back to her family and told them about Jesus. They put their faith in him as well.
Sometimes when we observe what is going on in our country it is easy to become discouraged by the trends we see. Knowing that for the most part those in power in government, media and education oppose Christianity can cause us to lose hope. It is so very encouraging to remember that the Spirit of God is at work in our world. Even if somehow our government made a concerted effort to suppress the Good News, in the end it would fail. Jesus said the gates of hell will not prevail against his church. Our confidence is not in our ability to wield political power, but in the power of our God to sustain his church.