Christian persecution in Iran has a history of more than 36 years. Persecution of Christian converts has probably begun since the introduction of Christian faith to Iran before the year 40 AD.
Iranian Jews have most likely participated on the first feast of booths (Pentecost) after the event of crucifixion of Jesus Christ in Jerusalem and heard Peter’s preaching, believed in Christ and were baptized. After returning to their homeland, they dealt with the opposition of their former fellow believers.
Such persecution has not been unprecedented in the history of two thousand years of Christians, but has also spread. The intensity of this persecution has been increased or decreased by the change of political situation of different periods.
In the recent 36 years, after the Islamic regime coming to power in Iran, Iranian Christians have faced various persecutions, ranging from the violation of the rights of citizenship to the physical elimination of the leaders of the churches in the Iranian government terrorist acts.
Armenian and Assyrian brothers who served among Persian-speaking Iranian Churches stood even at the price of losing their life in proclaiming the good news.
The climax of such resistance manifested in the martyrdom of Bishop Haik Hovsepian Mehr. His blood the same as Stephan’s, the first martyr in the first decade of the century, raised great revival among his countrymen.
After the outbreak of this revival, it was time to oppress the Christian converts. Iranian government has targeted mostly to the Christian converts who have come to Jesus from the Muslim background and accepted Him as their Lord and Savior. Acceptance of the Christian faith, especially in the Islamic Republic of Iran which claims the leadership of the Islamic world, is efficiently an ideological failure.
So far, the security efforts of Iran rulers have had a reversed result. With the intensity of pressures on churches, believers started to worship Christ in their homes. Forced closure of churches caused follower of Islam more eager to Christ. The attack on house churches, arrest, and torture of Persian Christian leaders did not prevent the revival in Iran. But the news stimulated the growth of Persian churches inside and outside of Iran. Iranian security apparatus, with pressure on the families of the prisoners, forced many to leave the country. Christian outcasts continued their service among Persian speakers out of Iran, thus, more Persian-speaking churches flourished around the world. Persian Christian networks, news on persecuted church of Iran on internet and etc. addressed millions of people. More Iranians saw and believed in Christ.
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8: 28
At the height of government persecution of Persian Christians, however, Iranian outside Iran rushed to help their countrymen, to become their voices, and returned to Iran for their comfort. They were not afraid to take actions. Now, there are pastors and priests imprisoned with other Christian prisoners in Iran. Those who did not prefer the security and prosperity they had outside Iran and stood next to their brothers. Saeed Abedinis are not a few. Also, the prison walls did not prevent ears to hear the servants of the living Christ, and every day, God raise the number of the saved people in the church.
Not surprisingly, among the believers in the Lord Jesus are either the religious elite young Muslims for whom the rulers have planned and dreamed for many years or the children and close relatives of these Iranian officials who must be either the top leaders of the third generation. The smoke of the fire they lit up has gone into their own eyes. As there is a saying that goes, “what goes around comes around.”
In Acts 2: 9-11, among the religious Jews who were from different nations, Luke at the beginning of the verse points us to “Parthians, Medes, and Elamites”. Luke the author of this report, who is known for his accuracy in reporting events, has chosen the order of the names of the nations neither based on the alphabetical order nor the geographical distance. Rejecting these two hypotheses is not a difficult task. It is more probable that including the Iranian nations at the beginning of the names was due to the large number of Jewish population in Iran.
Accordingly, you will hear a song from Rev. Aramais Gharakhanian. He dedicated this song to all the Christian prisoners who have retained their faith under pressure and persecution.