Iran (MNN) — Norm Nelson, founder of Compassion Radio, recently returned from an eye-opening trip to Iran.
Nelson visited several cities during his stay in Iran, including Tehran, Yazd, Shiraz, and
Isfahan. According to Christians in one city, the population of believers has dropped significantly; from 5,000 to 4,000. The main cause of the decreasing numbers is immigration out of Iran because of political pressure by current President Ahmadinejad and Supreme Leader Khamenei.
Apparently this exodus is happening in other cities as well, and Nelson believes it is cause for concern. "Christians have been present in Persia since the earliest days of the Christian movement. It is tragic to see the reduction of the Christian presence in Iran. They have been a faithful witness to the Gospel for centuries."
However, there are signs of hope, as well. Conversions from dreams and visions resembling those in the New Testament are taking place. "It is difficult to quantify this sort of conversion growth in Iran. But it is happening, and it is significant!" said Nelson.
Nelson believes "Iran is a breakthrough country. But precipitous military action by the U.S. against Iran could derail that very positive people's movement in our direction. We need to exercise patience and political maturity in relation to Iran. And most of all, we need to pray for Iran. God is at work there."
While there, Nelson also met with young Iranian journalists and scientists and spent time with Muslim clerics in Shiraz. He had a "surprisingly friendly" meeting with the elite Revolutionary Guard and did an interview with a university instructor concerning Iran's
nuclear power development.
On the way home, Nelson stopped in Morocco where he was interviewed and welcomed by the government-owned Marrakesh Regional Radio.
In past trips to Iran, Nelson has been involved in earthquake relief and participated in Christian/Muslim dialogue sessions. He and his wife plan to visit their third and final country, North Korea, in the "Axis of Opportunity" as they like to call it.