Iran (MNN) —
Iran's Supreme Leader is taking off the mask. Todd Nettleton with Voice of the
Martyrs USA says, "This is another step in what is
becoming a very open animosity between the Iranian government and the house
church movement in Iran."
On Oct.19, Ayatollah Khamenei
gave a speech in which he mentions the various ways in which he sees that Islam
is attacked. He noted that young Muslims are being separated from the pure
principles of Islamic faith by distractions, differing philosophies, and
In this speech, the ayatollah warned about the danger presented
by the "network of house churches." The rapid growth of the church has been noted by both the Christians and
by the Iranian government.
fact that Khamenei took special care to target the network of house churches is
telling, and it could have a long-term effect that can't be determined yet. Nettleton
says, "The concern is that local officials and others will take that as
permission to go even further in their attacks against the house churches and
in their attacks against the Christians. This really gives the idea that the
supreme leader of the government is saying, ‘We've got to do whatever it takes
to stop these house church networks from
This could be an effort to stem the
disillusionment that's become evident among the young people of Iran. The first crack in the veneer was seen
at the height of mass post-election protests that took place in Iran, known as
the Green Revolution. "When
elections are stolen, or when they [young people] see corruption, they see that as being Islam,"
explains Nettleton, adding that when they make that connection, they often take
it one step further and conclude, "'Islam is
failing.' So they are very open to
other ideas, including the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That's part of the reason
the church is growing so rapidly."
Khamenei's speech painted
Christians in a bad light, one that portrays them as an enemy to their
country. It's likely
that scrutiny will increase, too. "We know that the authorities focus on
arresting the leaders. They focus on knowing who's behind the meeting, who's
organizing them, who's leading them. Those are the people they go after."
However, by acknowledging the "threat" of the house church, has Khamenei given it credibility? The
thirst for hope is growing ever stronger. Believers know the risk they take
by being bold in their faith. Pray
that they won't be intimidated into silence. Nettleton urges us to pray "that this hunger can
be filled by people who are sharing the Gospel and spreading the good news of
There are other ways to support
the body of Christ in Iran here.