(OPINION) Christianity is illegal in Iran. Yet, despite facing imprisonment, torture, and execution, millions of Iranians are forsaking the Muslim faith and converting to Christianity.
According to Open Doors International, there are more than 1.2 million believers residing within reach of the brutal Islamic Iranian regime.
This phenomenon is happening despite the regime’s efforts to target believers and spread false information and encourage a negative opinion about Christianity.
Lela Gilbert, Senior Fellow for International Religious Freedom at Family Research Council, suggests that Iran holds little power over curtailing the Good News of Jesus Christ.
“In my research and interviews, it has become clear that new Christians’ witness to others is mostly shared in quiet conversations, encouraged by low-profile online Bible studies, and affirmed by visions, dreams, and miraculously answered prayers,” she explained.
“Due to their risky circumstances, recent Christian converts are enthusiastically communicating about their changed lives with friends and loved ones — but quietly and carefully. However, their discreet but persistent witness accounts for the extraordinary number of new Iranian believers, who meet in small house churches,” Gilbert continued.
“Those involved with the ‘house church’ movement in Iran are convinced that there are likely several million Christian believers there,” she added.
Daniel Pipes, president of the Middle East Forum, also reports Christianity is flourishing.
“An evangelical pastor, formerly an Iranian Muslim, concurred as far back as 2008: ‘We find ourselves facing what is more than a conversion to the Christian faith. It’s a mass exodus from Islam’,” he explained in Newsweek a few years ago.
Pipes adds that the house church is key to the growth of the Christian faith in Iran.
He explains, “The practice of what are sometimes called Muslim Background Believers (MBBs) lacks clergy and church buildings, but instead consists of self-starting disciples and tiny house churches of four to five members each, with either hushed singing or none at all. Its lay leadership, in striking contrast to the mullahs who rule Iran, consists mainly of women.”
Women like Marziyeh Amirizadeh have remained formidable in their faith despite being incarcerated and tortured in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison for being a Christian.
As CBN News reported, Marzi, as she is known, eventually escaped Iran and started a new life in the U.S.
But before her exile, she and a friend smuggled 20,000 Bibles into Tehran because God told her to “plant the seeds.”
“We knew how much Iranians are thirsty. And when we returned [to Tehran], we had no idea what to do and how we can serve the Lord. And I remember we just prayed and asked Him to give us a vision,” Marzi recalled.
“And one day I was reading the Bible and God show me that Iran is like a big desert. There is now seed in this land. And He said, ‘Plant some seeds, then I will grow it with the power of the Holy Spirit.”