Iranians who have converted to Christianity or encourage others to accept the Gospel find it difficult to have a joyful Christmas season, as they face persecution from the authorities in Teheran,The Daily Beast reported.
There are about 150,000 Christians in Iran out of a total population of some 80 million people. Most of the Christian community are Armenians who have more than 100 churches and live in relative peace, as the regime tolerates them since they were born Christians.
But the Iranian government persecutes the rest of the Christian population and those who have converted to the faith, including congregations that might include people who were born to Muslim families. CBN News reported there are some 90 Christians being held in Iranian prisons on nebulous charges.
Each of those incarcerated have their own horror story of intimidation by the regime. Some are charged with threatening Islamic state security, a catch-all that tries to obscure the obvious fact of religious persecution.
Despite the Iranian regime’s best efforts to stop the spread of Christianity, a large underground church movement is growing, and hundreds of Iranian citizens have been converting to Christianity, Fox News reported.
“It’s an astronomical increase,” said Mani Efran, CEO and founder of CCM Ministries, which has been involved in Iran’s underground church movement for more than 20 years. “And it’s been predominately young people.”
Efran told Fox that “The youth have become restless and have looked toward an alternative to the regime and Islam. The youth find Western culture and the Christian church very appealing. It’s become a counter-culture. A counter-revolution to the [1979 Iranian] Revolution.”