The majority of the wider Christian community are Christian Armenians with a smaller number of Assyrians and Chaldeans. They are cultural and linguistic islands isolated in a Muslim sea. While they live in relative peace, their fear of persecution and of job and educational discrimination, as well as their desire to offer their families a more stable and promising future, drive many to emigrate, denuding Iran of the richness of communities that predate Islam by centuries. Pray for a work of the Holy Spirit in these often-nominal churches, that Jesus might shine through their lives and that they might have a burden for their Muslim neighbours.
Evangelical churches before the revolution were generally small and struggling, and they contained very few Muslim-background believers. The traumatic changes and suffering that followed the revolution gave churches a brief period of renewal, outreach, literature distribution and many conversions. Barriers among denominations broke down. The hostility of the regime toward evangelicals caused much greater interest in Christianity among Persians – Presbyterians and Assemblies of God, especially, grew as a result. Intimidation, infiltration and martyrdom of several church leaders, and pressure from the government to not welcome Muslims into services, have caused many churches to adopt house church models. Most churches that meet publicly now tow the government line and do not overtly evangelize Muslims. Pray for:
a) Adequate income for Christians who face poverty both from general economic decline and from religious discrimination in the workplace. Emigration is a solution for pressured Christians, but their vital witness in needy Iran is then lost. Pray that believers may break through this economic pressure and resist the temptation to leave.
b) Courage and fortitude such that their persecutors are won for Christ. While Armenians and Assyrians are discriminated against, Muslim-background believers are actively persecuted. Pray also for greater freedom for churches to minister, as they long to do.
c) Protection and deliverance for all MBBs. The large majority meet secretly in small house groups. There is always a danger that such meetings could be discovered and those involved punished, especially the leaders. A decentralized cell structure and the use of techniques honed by the underground party-circuit help house groups avoid detection and arrest.
d) Churches outside of Tehran often face more intimidation as fundamentalist forces exercise more control in less-urban areas. Many towns and villages lack any churches at all. However, this is changing due to the increasing influence of the Internet and satellite TV as well as the enthusiasm of young Iranian Christians to evangelize their countrymen. House church movements are spreading throughout the country.