Iran (MNN) — Iran is notorious for cracking down on Jesus followers. It’s number nine on Open Doors’ list of the top 50 countries that persecute Christians.
“Persecution is putting fear inside someone’s heart, someone’s mind, and just paralyzing them with fear. Fear is so dangerous,” Nazanin* says.
Nazanin and her husband were church planters in Iran but had to flee decades ago because of persecution. “Government authorities hated Christians with a passion,” she recalls.
“They wanted to close down the church, persecute the Christians; I remember they would come and just terrorize people.”
Faith leaders are not immune from this spirit of fear. Sometimes, when her husband left home to lead a Bible study, “I would walk with him [due to the] fear of something happening to him; [being] kidnapped or something,” Nazanin says.
Fear vs. faith
When Iranians call in requesting prayer or they have questions about Jesus, the government tries to drive them away. “After they hang up, they get a recording: ‘you have called, and you are in danger, we will persecute you, we will imprison you; we’ll find you,’” Nazanin says.
“It’s scary so that they won’t call us again.”
Pray the Holy Spirit will work powerfully through Heart4Iran’s Call Center to overcome fear with faith. “Fear makes people look for peace and stick to Jesus more desperately because Jesus is the only one who can defeat death and fear,” Nazanin says.
Call Center operators also minister to people through social media. Opportunities abound on Facebook, where “we receive a lot of chats and (young) people engaging with us,” Nazanin says.
For Afghans and Iranians, “it’s the first time they’re hearing about the Gospel [so] they’re shocked,” she continues.
“They ask so many questions and [keep] all of us busy. Some of us had to work late at night, just chatting and answering their questions, bringing Bible verses, teaching them the basics.”
*Name withheld for security purposes
The persecution rate in Iran has risen by 25%. Yet, people are still turning to Christ amidst the threat of extreme danger and even death. (Photo courtesy of Heart4Iran)