Leader: Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
How many Christians?: 800,000 (under 0.9% of the population)
World Watch List Rank: 9
“I thank God for considering me worthy of enduring this persecution because of Him.”
Hamed, a Christian in Iran whose house was raided
Converts from Islam to Christianity are most at risk of persecution, especially from the government and to a lesser extent from society and their own families.
The government sees the growth of the church in Iran as an attempt by Western countries to undermine Islam and the Islamic regime of Iran. House groups made up of converts from Muslim backgrounds are often raided, and both their leaders and members have been arrested, prosecuted and given long prison sentences for ‘crimes against national security’.
Despite most house church members being women, more men are arrested, prosecuted, sentenced by the government, and often imprisoned for many years. This especially affects male pastors. This not only impacts churches, but also families. Sometimes the strain and emotional pain caused by separation leads to divorce and child trauma. The child of one pastor could not address him as ‘Dad’ upon his release, instead calling him ‘Sir’.
In Iran, women have little individual legal protection, making the situation particularly precarious for Christian women detained for their faith. They are at risk of sexual harassment by the authorities during interrogation and imprisonment. Since Iranian women are not free to travel on their own, fleeing a dangerous situation and finding sheltered accommodation is difficult.
Being a Christian in Iran continues to carry huge risk, including imprisonment. Hamed (31) was arrested in February 2019 for ‘propaganda against the Islamic republic’. The authorities seized Christian items, including Bibles and other Christian literature, as well as computer hard drives, when they raided his home.
During interrogations, Hamed refused to inform on other Christians in return for financial reward. He was consequently beaten. Before beginning his sentence, he released a short video explaining that he had been arrested for Christian activities.
After just under a month in prison, Hamed was released to spend the remaining nine months of his sentence with an electronic tag.
Mojtaba from Iran was imprisoned for leading a house church. In this video, he shares how God used his imprisonment to help share the gospel with the least and the lost.
After four years’ imprisonment for ‘violating national security’, Iranian Christian Maryam Naghash Zargaran was released from Tehran’s Evin prison in August 2017. Open Doors held a worldwide letter-writing campaign for her during her time in prison; unfortunately, most of the letters were withheld from her. Now released, she is finally able to read your encouraging words!
Open Doors partners support the church in Iran with online ministry presence, Christian multimedia initiatives and advocacy.
Father God, we are astonished that, despite the extreme persecution facing our family in Iran, the church continues to see strong growth. May Christians continue to grow in number and maturity. Please help believers who are suffering for You to stand strong in Your love and power – and may this love and power extend to those who oppose them. Protect Christians from harm, and keep prying eyes from house churches. May these gatherings be places where believers are transformed into Your likeness and equipped for everyday service to You.
Click the Iran tag below for a list of the latest articles and news on the country…
We support people who are beaten, tortured,
imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.