Iran (MNN) – The largest group of Christians in Iran today have converted from another religion. In fact, Iran is the fastest growing church in the world, by some counts. That says something about the contagious nature of hope when you consider the fact that Iran is also one of the most dangerous places to be a Christian.
The World Watch List places Iran at number eight in a list of the worst places to live as a Christian citing extreme persecution at the hands of Islamic oppression. Heart4Iran exists to get the western world inspired and involved in what God is doing in this part of the world.
We recently spoke to *David from Heart4Iran who says, “We feel like the movement in Iran is one of the most exciting things happening in the world. And Iranians coming to Christ now faster than ever, faster than anywhere else in the world—there are a lot of reasons for that, but we feel like it’s a miracle of God, and we want to bring that excitement and that enthusiasm for what’s happening in the Muslim world to every believer around the world and let them see the hope and be inspired by what God is doing inside of Iran.”
And with globalization, specifically the movement of refugees from the Middle East into other parts of the world, there is a growing opportunity for the global Church to get involved in a very personal way right from home. Recognizing this, Heart4Iran developed a tool called “Reaching the Muslims Next Door”. This free downloadable guide shares practical ways you can reach out to your neighbors.
(Image courtesy of Heart4Iran)
David explains that the guide is also helpful for another reason. Iran is already on people’s minds because so much is taking place there. “It’s always in the news for all the wrong reasons. And your average person is going to be hearing that negative feedback about Iran. However, we have all the good news about Iran.”
Tips for reaching out
They want to share that good news with Christians to motivate them into action. David says there are a couple of things to keep in mind when considering outreach to your Iranian neighbors. First of all, he says we have to remember that Muslims come from many cultures, backgrounds, and places. We cannot assume what’s true for one Muslim group is true for all. That said, he explains that often you will find Iranians are very willing to engage in conversation about spiritual things.
“They’re easy to talk to and very open to hear about the Gospel and hear about your views. Your average Iranian is going to consider himself non-religious. And so, we would use that as an opportunity to talk about what we believe personally.”
But connecting with someone from a different background who doesn’t know Jesus should not be a one and done thing. David says in this case, the key is establishing a friendship. And then, you can talk about what you believe. And remember, there’s not going to be any convincing or tricking someone into believing what you believe.
He continues, ”It’s more about sharing what God’s done in your life, and sharing stories about Jesus from the Bible is one of the main ways you can do that. The Iranian or any Muslim that’s heard of Jesus, they don’t necessarily know what a Christian believes about Jesus.”
Another thing to consider is where these people are coming from. It’s a good idea to stay away from the international and internal politics—often these topics are more divisive than helpful. But, David says, “I think it’s helpful to know some of the background where these guys are coming from. The United Nations ranks Iran as one of the most difficult places to live. It has the highest rates of suicide, the highest rates of drug addiction. So there’s a lot of hopelessness in Iran. It’d be important to understand that when a person’s coming, they’ve probably got a lot of baggage and a lot of needs.”
In all this, David says there is something else we should remember: “We serve a big God, and God is moving all over the world and people are coming to him, and this is the greatest opportunity, I would say in the history of the world, to serve him and to reach these foreign people that are coming to our land.”
Additional resources and ways to plug in
Heart4Iran has many additional resources to help you engage with the Muslim world so that they can learn about Jesus. You can check it all out on their website, here. In addition to their network, they also have several dozen partner ministries. So if there’s something specific in mind that they can’t help you with, they probably know of someone who can.
Heart4Iran can also help you get a Farsi Bible if you have an Iranian neighbor. They also run a prayer and counseling service for any Muslim who is interested in knowing more about Jesus. For more information on these things, contact them, here.
And maybe you just feel led to pray about this situation. David asks that we pray for the American Church to realize this opportunity to tell others about Christ, and to take full advantage of it. Also, pray for the growth of the Church in Iran to continue and for God’s Gospel movement around the globe.
David says their latest estimates are that four million people have come to Christ in Iran. Please continue to pray for them, as well.
“These people are living as isolated believers. It’s illegal for them to connect or to go to any church or any kind of gathering like that. It’s illegal. And so we want to pray for them specifically as God is working on them, in their lives.”
*Name changed for security