The underground Iranian church has experienced unprecedented growth in the last 10 years despite tremendous persecution under hard-line Muslim President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Believers are praying that new leadership would grant them religious freedom.
"Last year has been one of the toughest years on the growing house-church movement in Iran," Paul Estabrooks of Open Doors said. "More than 50 house-church leaders were arrested. There has been a strong crack down against the growing house church, and the reason of course is that the church is growing so fast."
A 2008 apostasy law making conversion from Islam a capital offense passed Iran's Parliament. Though currently awaiting Parliamentary council review, the law could be enacted during the first months of the next presidency. If enacted, conversion from Islam would mean the death penalty for men and life in prison for women.
Many believers say they converted from Islam after having dreams of Christ. Most new Christians are young adults who are evangelizing their peers at impressive rates and are hopeful about their future.
"The large growth of the church is predominantly among young people in Iran, and they have great hopes for a better future in their land--for believers and for the church," Estabrooks said.
Pray for freedom and relief for Christian believers in Iran who number several times more than the official government count of 300,000. Pray for strength to endure imprisonment and abuse well. Pray for many more to come to know the true freedom found only in Jesus Christ.