Iran has arrested about 70 Christians since Christmas in a crackdown that demonstrates the limits of religious tolerance by Islamic leaders who often boast they provide room for other faiths.
Christian activists claim their Iranian brethren are being persecuted simply for worshiping outside officially sanctioned mainstream churches, the small community of Iranian Christians who get together for prayer and Bible readings in private residences and out of sight of authorities. They are part of a wider “house church” movement that has taken root in other places with tight controls on Christian activities such as China and Indonesia.
Iran has claimed as a point of pride that it makes space for other religions. It reserves parliament seats for Jewish and Christian lawmakers and permits churches — Roman Catholic, Armenian Orthodox and others — as well as synagogues and Zoroastrian temples that are under sporadic watch by authorities. In past years, authorities have staged arrests on Christians and other religious minorities, but the latest sweeps appears to be among the biggest and most coordinated.
Tehran Governor Morteza Tamadon described the Christians as “hard-line” missionaries who have “inserted themselves into Islam like a parasite,” according to the official Islamic Republic News Agency.
It’s still unclear what charges could be brought against the jailed Christians. But allegations of trying to convert Muslims could bring a death sentence.
“The use of the word missionaries instead of evangelicals is an intentional move by the government,” she said. “As evangelicals, they are a group entitled to their faith. As missionaries, they are enemies of the state seeking to corrupt its people.”
Source; Associated Press (The entire article is well worth reading)
In Matthew 5: 10-11, Jesus said;
Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
1 Corinthians 12:26 says;
And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.
And 1 Peter 4:13 says;
To the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.
The anti-Christ spirit which powers the Shi’ite Islamic religious authorities in Iran has no problem permitting traditional “Churches” who are at best dead and at worst anti-Christ themselves to operate so that they can pretend to be tolerant of minorities.
But when a tiny number of people start attending true, Bible Believing Evangelical churches, the anti-Christ forces in Iran know that they have a real problem. The Demonic spirit is terrified and outraged that the Spirit of Christ dares to invade its domain.
All true Christians need to lift up the house churches in Iran, and take inspiration from their example.
Their persecution is our persecution, their suffering our suffering and their triumph our triumph. They are a tiny number, but they have made a mighty kingdom of darkness tremble with fear.
Written by Aaron