Iran is a tough country for Christians. In this radical Islamic republic, sharing the Christian faith is not tolerated. Fewer than 1 in 100 Iranians are believers. Converts from Islam face the toughest pressure – along with the Christians who lead them to Christ.
Islamic hardliners want to see the Iranian revolution of the 1970s sweep throughout the world. Yet God is at work, and a steady stream of Muslims are coming to Christ. Underground churches have been set up for these Muslim-background believers.
These churches are subject to police raids. Arrested church leaders face lengthy sentences, sometimes in prisons such as Evin, where they can face torture and abuse.
According to reports, the Iranian authorities arrested upwards of 50 Christians last year. Many others have left the country.
Release has launched an appeal to help Christian workers and evangelists around the world – underground church leaders like Pastor Jacob (not his real name) from Iran.
Pastor Jacob grew his church to more than 100. But then he came to the attention of the security services, who banned him from preaching. But Pastor Jacob believed ‘the house of God should always be open.’
Some of those new believers in his care were former Muslims. The government has forbidden its citizens from converting to Christ. So Pastor Jacob risked imprisonment by gathering those believers in secret to pray with them and teach them more about Jesus.
In Iran, ten Christian workers are currently behind bars for their faith and around 20 more are appealing their sentences.
Release International’s partner met Pastor Jacob and his wife to encourage and strengthen them. They helped them plan for the future and passed on vital financial support.
Release is providing Bibles and New Testaments to Muslim-background believers in Iran and other countries.
Says Release CEO Paul Robinson: ‘Release supports many courageous church leaders such as Pastor Jacob around the world. They are committed to making a stand for Christ. They are not afraid to face persecution, even prison, for telling people about Jesus. Such faithful and brave believers need our prayers and financial support.’
Release’s ministry partners help these underground evangelists to share the gospel, serve local churches and disciple new believers.
Richard Wurmbrand, the Romanian pastor who inspired the founding of Release, called on Christians in the West to, ‘Join hands with the underground church and give them the financial means to travel with the gospel.’
Says Release CEO Paul Robinson: ‘Please help our brothers and sisters in Christ worldwide who are not afraid of persecution or going to prison for preaching the good news of Jesus. You can donate quickly and securely online here.’