By Jeremy Reynalds
The wide range of Iranian people watching Christian television programs and Christian websites shows increasing interest in Christianity, according to a report by Mohabat News.
Many believe that the frequency of arbitrary detention and harassment of Christians is because the younger generation is increasingly dissatisfied with the Islamic faith.
“The wave of acceptance of Christianity in Iran is increasing on a daily basis,” says Shahram Nikoo, an Iranian Christian and manager of the Iranian Church in Europe. “We know this from Christian television networks which are being broadcast through satellite signals, and also the feedback people give from inside Iran regarding these programs. It’s also obvious from the (viewing numbers) on our websites. All these factors show that many people in Iran are interested in committing their lives to Jesus Christ.”
Nikoo says they use all available resources to reach young people. “We do nothing in secret and everything is completely open. All evangelical television programs are accessible through satellite channels and/or Internet. Praise the Lord that today we are living in a world which gives us the opportunity to communicate with people around us … The people themselves are eager to discover the gospel and study it. Some other people also come to the faith through dreams and visions.”
Bibles and other Christian literature are hard to obtain. “There are no Christian books or literature available in Iran. The only resources available to the people who want to know about Christianity are the Internet and satellite television.”
While many websites are blocked, there are ways to get around the filtering, Nikoo told Mohabat News.
“There are more people coming to Christ from the religious cities like Qom and Mashhad in comparison to other cities,” Nikoo says. “There are people from various religious backgrounds who have converted to Christianity including Baha’is, Sunni Muslims, Zoroastrians and so on.”
When the Iranians arrest someone, one of the first things they do is to make a false financial or moral allegation against the arrested person. (They) then tell the individual that if you repent and return to Islam, all your crimes will be pardoned. “Unfortunately, inappropriate behaviors are being used against Iranian Christians, especially those who have an Islamic background. It’s really surprising that the Islamic Republic is pressuring Christian converts to this extent. These people really have nothing to do with politics and they’re not trying to change the regime. These people have just changed into different and better people. It’s so puzzling why a regime is trying to persecute its own people rather than encouraging them.”
Nikoo added, “We have people who were addicted to drugs before they believed in Jesus and now that they’ve accepted him as their Savior, their lives have been totally changed. Now they are sharing their faith with other addicts around them and encouraging them to give up drugs. There were situations in which couples were losing their family life, and after believing in Jesus they were both living happily together and had started a new life in their Lord.”
Nikoo said, “What’s the problem if people who had a ruined life change their lives and share this better life with others?”
“During the past seven or eight years, I’ve met with some Christians who had been jailed for their faith. The main problem they had was with their landlords. When the landlords realized that they were arrested for being Christians he/she would force them to vacate their house. Also, in their workplace they faced problems with their employers who fired them from their job because of being jailed for their faith. Actually, the Christian prisoners in Iran lose their right to have a house or a job, and as a result they have a really difficult life. The attitude of society toward them would change, and they’d be considered as criminals among their community,” Nikoo notes.
“People reject these Christians as a result of fear of the authorities. It’s kind of an indirect pressure from the authorities.”
Mohabat News asked Nikoo, “What kind of sentences do the judicial authorities issue for Christian prisoners? What is their crime?”
Nikoo concluded, “Mostly, Christians who are arrested get released after signing a commitment to not evangelize and paying a prescribed amount of bail. But I’ve heard that these people are subjected to various other pressures for converting to Christianity.”
For more information about Mohabat News go to www.mohabatnews.com