The underground Church in Iran is 1 million strong, study indicates. COURTESY PHOTO.
People in Iran, a Muslim-majority nation, are fleeing Islam in droves to receive Jesus as their personal Lord and savior. This is according to new survey by GAMAAN, a research group based out of the Netherlands.
The survey found that 1.5% of Iranians are now Christians. Initially, Islam was the religion of 99.4% of the country’s population.
According to GAMAAN, the number of Christians in Iran is “without doubt in the order of magnitude of several hundreds of thousands and growing beyond a million.”
The new findings are not surprising if you ask Missiologists (Christians focusing on missionary work by researching and analyzing the culture before preaching the gospel), who have been reporting explosive growth of Christianity in the Islamic country. So much so that Christianity Today reports Iran is feeling threatened by the growth of Christian churches in the country.
The traditional Armenian and Assyrian Christians in Iran number 117,700, according to the latest government statistics.
Iran is governed by Islamic law, which means the rights of and professional possibilities for Christians are heavily restricted.
Christians are forbidden from sharing their faith with non-Christians in Iran, and it is illegal to produce Christian literature or hold church services in Farsi, the most common language in Iran, according to Open Doors.
Iran is listed among the top 10 nations in the world where it is difficult to live as a Christian. Many believers (especially converts) have been prosecuted and sentenced to long terms in jail. Others are still awaiting trial. Their families face public humiliation.
‘Sheep Among Wolves,’ a documentary released last year, examining growth of Christianity in Iran, and underground churches, described this mass exodus from Islam to Christianity as “the Iranian awakening.”
Dalton Thomas, the documentary director said in a statement that the movement “owns no property, no buildings, no central leadership, and is predominantly led by women.”
“Muslim-background Iranians are leading a quiet but mass exodus out of Islam and bowing their knees to the Jewish Messiah—with kindled affection toward the Jewish people,” FAI Studios which released the documentary said.
A leader of the Iranian underground church explained their goal is not planting churches but rather making disciples, the majority of whom are women.
“Disciples forsake the world and cling to Jesus ’till he comes. Converts don’t,” the leader said. “Disciples aren’t engaged in a culture war. Converts are. Disciples cherish, obey, and share the word of God. Converts don’t. Disciples choose Jesus over anything and everything else. Converts don’t. Converts run when the fire comes. Disciples don’t.”
And a pastor explained everything they do underground is built on prayer.
“We find people of peace through prayer. We even find locations through prayer,” he says. “[Jesus] has come in their dreams or he’s come miraculously in their lives. When we hear this, we know that Jesus has gone ahead of us.”
Fox News, Christianity Today, the Christian Post and Christian Headlines contributed to this report.