“In the last 20 years, more Iranians have become Christians than in the previous 13 centuries—since Islam came to Iran.”

"According to the research organization Operation World, Iran has the fastest-growing evangelical movement in the world. The second-fastest-growing church is in Afghanistan—where Afghans are being reached in large part by Iranians." - TGC

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WallyMorris's picture

I am always skeptical of claims like this. How do they know how many people trusted Christ as Savior in Iran in the centuries past? How would you objectively determine that? Much like other claims of "massive numbers turning to Christ" in various countries. What does that mean? Are we referring to Catholicism, Charismatic groups, what? Even using the term "Evangelical", what does that mean in other countries?

Wally Morris

Charity Baptist Church

Huntington, IN

amomentofcharity.blogspot.com

Joel Shaffer's picture

It is referring mainly to Evangelicals and some Charismatic groups.  There have been several missionaries and evangelical mission organizations that have met with the underground church in Iran and have validated this claim, including this missionary couple from ABWE.  https://www.abwe.org/blog/soleimani-iran-and-gospel-0  This is also happening throughout Europe as well as many Iranian refugees/Asylum Seekers have turned to Christ.  About 10% of  Iranians in Sweden are now evangelical Christians.  

TylerR's picture

Editor

Wally, are you sure you're not tempted to discount these reported conversions because they likely don't follow the specific flavor of Christianity you do?

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and works in State government. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

I can't speak for Wally, but personally I'm skeptical any time I read about "huge amounts" of conversions to Christianity, and it's not because they might not be my "flavor" of Christian.  It's because in over 50 years of life, I've seen events like revivals, VBS, etc. produce many "conversions," but few lifetime disciples of Christ.  I'm happy any time I read or hear about a conversion, and I pray that it's genuine, but my experience as well as scriptures like the parable of the sower and the seed, and what happens to most of the seed give me reason to take reports like this with a healthy measure of salt.  I'm certainly happy to admit any time my skepticism in this area proves wrong.

Dave Barnhart

Joel Shaffer's picture

Dave and Wally, 

It seems as if you are looking at this through the Western Church's eyes, where there is no persecution. Many of the world's fastest-growing movements of Christianity are located in countries where intense persecution takes place.  This is nothing like revivals and etc...that you've experienced in America where mass conversion is often a result of emotionalism.  To become a Christian in Iran or Afghanistan or China or even Nigeria can cost your life.  The exploding Christian movement in Iran is underground. There have been many Christian martyrs in Iran as well, which has been documented by Voice of the Martyrs. "The blood of the Martyrs is the seed of the church."  There is much documentation of persecution and evidence of almost a million new converts to Christianity in Iran over the past 20 years through several organizations such as Operational World, Project Joshua, and etc...   It's fairly easy to see that Christianity never took root in Iran like this in the previous 18 centuries, especially when it was choked for so many centuries by Islam.  

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

Joel Shaffer wrote:

It seems as if you are looking at this through the Western Church's eyes, where there is no persecution.

Joel, you are quite correct that the circumstances would be different in Iran than here.  That's why I'm only skeptical, rather than disbelieving.  And I have heard enough from missionaries supported by my own church that tell of converts to Christianity from Islam or ancestor worship, etc. being persecuted by the governments or families, so I absolutely agree with you that conversions where it costs something significant are likely to be more genuine than many that would be seen here in America.  I still think it would be hard to measure numbers now against numbers of believers over the centuries to make a proclamation like that in the thread title, though I understand your point about seeing that Christianity had really never taken root in Iran in recent recorded history.

In any case, I'm not going to completely ignore this news.  I can rejoice in what appears to be happening while still not being 100% convinced that the numbers are as high as what is being reported.  To the extent that it is true, God be praised!

Dave Barnhart