Iran (WHO/MNN) — Iran ranks #5 on the Open Doors World Watch List 2012 — a listing of the worst 50 countries known for their persecution of Christians.
In spite of the overt hostility against believers, a change has been felt. With the Arab Spring and the recent revolution, it is clear that younger Iranians are actively seeking alternatives to Islam.
Muslims in Iran are more open to the Gospel than ever before. New believers face persecution, arrest, and execution because of their faith in the Lord.
Christians know any effort to express their faith can heighten the risk that Islamic authorities might learn of their Christian activities. Words of Hope shares a recent story of "R" and his wife "S," regular listeners to their Farsi Gospel broadcasts.
When authorities learned of their house church activities, "R" and "S" were arrested. After weeks of interrogation, they were released on bail. In a letter to the Words of Hope Iranian team leader, "R" and "S" testified that their understanding of God's Word had been crucial to their perseverance: "We want to praise God for your prayers. While we were in jail, we often thought about you and felt assured that in every situation God is using us. We believe that if we Iranians hear the true teaching of Jesus Christ, by the grace of God we will be able to stand firm in our faith no matter what trials and tribulations come. Jesus is building His Church in Iran."
Encouraged and emboldened by the responses they're getting, the team continues to advance the Gospel in Iran despite the severe restrictions imposed by the Islamic authorities.
Words of Hope also sponsors conferences for Iranian believers. Team leaders have conducted Christian weddings, prayed for and anointed those with special needs, celebrated the Lord's Supper, and baptized new believers.
The Web site of a Words of Hope ministry partners has been blocked by the government, and they continue to have challenges e-mailing with listeners. They have also been regularly interrogated by police since 2008.
One listener wrote, "What the Lord is doing in Iran today is nothing short of a spiritual awakening." Pray for the church in Iran.