There are only about 800,000 Christians in Iran, from a population of over 83.5 million – that’s less than one per cent of Iranians.
The Iranian government sees the conversion of Muslims to Christianity as an attempt by Western countries to undermine the Islamic rule of Iran. Christians from a Muslim background are persecuted the most, primarily by the government, but also by their families and communities. Secret churches are often raided, and their leaders and members have been arrested and given long prison sentences for ‘crimes against national security’. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has been 'supreme leader' of Iran since 1989, while Ebrahim Raisi won the presidential election in August 2021. Some Christians fear that Raisi's hard-line, conservative Islamic approach will make life even harder for believers.
Many Iranians are nominal Muslims, and so some new Christians find acceptance from their families. Converts from stricter Muslim families face more persecution at home. Christians from Armenian and Assyrian communities are recognised and protected by the state, but still treated as second-class citizens. They are not allowed to tell others about Jesus or to speak in Persian during their church services.
Covid-19 has hit the country hard, and many believers are in desperate need of food and aid. Measures to combat the virus have also made communication between Christians difficult, and they are increasingly exploring online fellowship and discipleship. Many Iranian prisoners, including some imprisoned for their faith, were released from prison during the early stages of the pandemic to combat the spread of Covid-19 in packed jails. However, other Christians remained in jail and the sentencing of Christians continues.
Please keep praying for your brothers and sisters in Iran. Your prayers make an enormous difference to those following Jesus no matter the cost.
Open Doors supports the church in Iran through partners with online ministry presence, multimedia productions, and advocacy.
Lord, please comfort Christians who have been imprisoned for their faith, that they may know You closely and hear You speaking powerfully to them. Bless the work Open Doors does for Iran, that its advocacy will bear fruit and encourage believers. Please give Iranian believers opportunities to tell others the good news of Jesus’ love for them.
Your support helps persecuted Christians continue to courageously follow Jesus.
Together, we can reach those where persecution hits hardest.