The world’s fastest growing church is that of IRAN.
Despite–or maybe because of–horrific persecution, the number of Christians in Iran has shot up from around 500 in 1979 to hundreds of thousands, maybe over a million, today. More people have become Christians in the last 20 years than have done so in the 13 centuries of Islamic domination combined.
In second place: AFGHANISTAN.
So reports Mark Howard and his sources, excerpted and linked after the jump.
All of which is instructive for us depressed and discouraged American Christians. If God can build His church in lands of such anti-Christian hostiity as Iran and Afghanistan, He can build it here. And if those Christians can live out their faith in the face of such powerful cultural opposition and government-sponsored persecution, with our far smaller problems, we can too.
From Mark Howard, The Story of Iran’s Church in Two Sentences, The Gospel Coalition:
Everyone loves a good story. As Christians, we especially love stories that tell us how, when all seems lost, God makes a way.
One such story is about the church in Iran—and it’s one of the greatest stories in the world today.
It’s a simple story that can be summarized in just two sentences: Persecution threatened to wipe out Iran’s tiny church. Instead, the church in Iran has become the fastest growing in the world, and it is influencing the region for Christ.
As simple as it is, such an amazing story is worth examining deeper.
The Iranian revolution of 1979 established a hard-line Islamic regime. Over the next two decades, Christians faced increasing opposition and persecution: All missionaries were kicked out, evangelism was outlawed, Bibles in Persian were banned and soon became scarce, and several pastors were killed. The church came under tremendous pressure. Many feared the small Iranian church would soon wither away and die.
But the exact opposite has happened. Despite continued hostility from the late 1970s until now, Iranians have become the Muslim people most open to the gospel in the Middle East.
How did this happen? Two factors have contributed to this openness. First, violence in the name of Islam has caused widespread disillusionment with the regime and led many Iranians to question their beliefs. Second, many Iranian Christians have continued to boldly and faithfully tell others about Christ, in the face of persecution.
As a result, more Iranians have become Christians in the last 20 years than in the previous 13 centuries put together since Islam came to Iran. In 1979, there were an estimated 500 Christians from a Muslim background in Iran. Today, there are hundreds of thousands—some say more than 1 million. Whatever the exact number, many Iranians are turning to Jesus as Lord and Savior.
In fact, last year the mission research organization Operation World named Iran as having the fastest-growing evangelical church in the world. According to the same organization, the second-fastest growing church is in Afghanistan—and Afghanis are being reached in part by Iranians, since their languages are similar.
The testimonies of Iranian men and women who’ve come to Christ are powerful.
HT: Mary Moerbe