“Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” (Matt 9:38 ESV)
God commands believers to pray for laborers to be sent into his harvest. This is true even in times and places where persecution is deadly. For Iranian believers, the labor continues despite frequent intense persecution.
Iran has seen much news coverage in recent months due largely to their nuclear negotiation with the United States and the recent capture and release of American sailors. The Islamic Republic of Iran is located in the Middle East with the Caspian Sea to its north and the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman to its south. Its population totals approximately 82 million and only 0.2% of the population is evangelical Christian. It borders the countries of Iraq, Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Since 1979, the country has been ruled by Islamic law after the Shia clerics assumed power under the ayatollah. Presently, the Islamic Republic of Iran acts as a religious dictatorship and stands as one of the most hostile countries towards Christians.
Since President Hassan Rouhani assumed office in 2013, there has been a sharp increase in religious oppression, especially toward professing converts to Christianity. Approximately 90 professing Christians are currently either imprisoned for their faith or are awaiting trial. Iranian courts hold the power to impose the death sentence on men who leave Islam and life imprisonment for the women who do.
Voice of the Martyrs records that in Iran “[a]lmost all Christian activity is illegal, especially when it occurs in Persian languages—from evangelism to Bible training to publishing Scripture and Christian books. Yet the regime’s harsh treatment of Christians only further fuels the flames of church growth.” Encouraging stories like this demonstrate how the Lord is working in the midst of persecution.
Here are some ways that you can pray for the persecuted church in Iran:
- Pray for boldness, that believers will remain strong and influence many others to trust Christ.
- Pray for those believers who may be imprisoned at this moment and for their captors.
- Pray that Iranian Christian may have adequate financial provision despite economic pressures placed on them due to their faith.
- Pray that more laborers will go to the people of Iran.
- Open Doors’ World Watch List
- U.S. State Department’s International Religious Freedom Report
- Operation World Country Report