Despite ongoing persecution, the head of a ministry that aids, equips, and advocates for Christians who are oppressed for their faith is glad to know the underground Church is doing well in Iran.
According to CSW, Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani of the country's underground Church, a deacon, a church member, and one other believer were initially arrested in May 2016 during a series of raids by security agents on Christian homes. Over a year later, they were found guilty of "acting against national security" by "promoting Zionist Christianity" and given ten-year sentences.
While out on bail awaiting a summons to prison after an appeal against his conviction, Pastor Nadarkhani was re-arrested July 22, 2018 following a violent police raid on his home. The other men were also re-arrested in a series of raids that same month and taken to Evin prison in Tehran to serve their sentences.
"He had suffered so much," laments Wendy Wright of Christian Freedom International. "He and his colleagues have suffered so much … under this crazy accusation of acting against national security, when all they were doing was living out what the Bible has told him to do. He was a pastor; he was reaching out and helping people, [and] he was teaching people about the Lord Jesus Christ."
Though the persecution of Christians has been going on for so many years, Christianity is growing in the region.
"All the reports are that the Church is just exploding; it's growing in Iran," Wright relays. "People are coming to Jesus Christ in ways that just haven't been seen before. It's very exciting to hear about what God is doing through the persecution."
She adds, though, that the imprisoned victims of the persecution need prayer, as do members of the underground Church and those in exile. Wright would also like to see members of the international community pressure Iran into not treating Christians as if they were a criminal element.