P.O. Box 25607, Colorado Springs, Colorado 80936 USA
Phone: (719) 596-0010 Fax: (719) 574-1141
"... In the
last days ... I shall restore the fortunes of Elam (Iran), declares the
After 1980, an increasing number of Iranians, mostly Muslims (rather than Iranians from nominal Christian backgrounds), began to turn to Christ. Iranians both in Iran and abroad joined this development. The Church of Iran grew numerically while it also grew stronger in faith, and commitment to Christ.
By 2002, ICI estimated the number of Iranian Christians worldwide to be over 60,000 half being Muslim converts and the other half from various religious minorities. Among Western Christians two attitudes prevailed toward these kinds of reports:
Of course, the Muslim clergy who are in power in Iran were already aware of this phenomenal growth. Accordingly, they increased their persecution of the Church in 1983 when they imprisoned Rev. Mehdi Dibaj, a Muslim convert.
In late 1992, ICI developed an informal "Preliminary Proposal for Leadership Training for Christians Ministering among Muslims." In this proposal, which received little support in Christian circles, we reported the number of Iranian Muslim converts worldwide as 13,300 (with half or 6,700 living in Iran). Christians generally ignored these reports. Clearly, many still questioned not only the identity but the very existence of Iranian Christians. Then in 1993, Patrick Johnston published Operation World His report on Iran asserted, "there are possibly 6000 (Muslim converts) in Iran today with about the same number among Iranian refugees (Diaspora)." He added, "Many more Iranians have become secret believers." Suddenly, it no longer seemed unwise to talk about the number of Iranian Muslim converts. Almost overnight, people began to accept the identity of Iranian Christians and Muslim converts.
On the other front, the depth of Iranian Christians' commitment to Christ came to the forefront when both the secular and Christian news media published Rev. Mehdi Dubai's written defense in early 1994. Christian leaders have since recognized it as one of the most important documents ever produced by the Church. Then during the same year, Bishop Haik Hovsepian-Mehr, Rev. Mehdi Dibaj and Rev. Tateos Mikaelian were martyred in Iran. A secular newspaper in Atlanta, Georgia (USA) wrote an article about the reality of Iranian Christians and their persecution in Iran. It added that Pat Robertson's "belly aching" about the persecution of Christians in the U.S. sounded hollow in comparison to the "real" persecution that Christians in Iran suffer.