5 Reasons Iran’s Youth Are Ready to Choose Christ

It used to take me weeks or months working with Persians who were interested in Christianity to convince them to choose Christ. For the older generations, the spirit of Islam lay heavy on them, a blindfold on their minds that prevented them from grasping the Gospel, truth, or often even logic. Fear of Islam and fear of the government would paralyze them.

But young people in Iran are now so open to Christ.ap_995965368922 The generation in their early twenties and younger often call or write to say, “I was watching your satellite TV program, and something in me said I need Jesus, and I’m ready.” No questions about Islam and Christianity. No fear of Islam or the government. Just, they are ready to choose Christ.

Why is this happening now? What is the change? Let me offer five reasons based on the regular testimony we receive from Iran’s young people.

  1. The depth of hopelessness is immense.

Young people under 25 look at their older siblings who have worked so hard to earn bachelor degrees, master degrees, and even PhDs and see that they are miserable. War and decades of harsh rule and sanctions have caused those in their thirties to early forties to name themselves the “Burnt Generation.” They can’t find jobs, they can’t afford to get married, and they have no future. So the younger generation says that even if we work hard, that’s our future. Life is empty.

  1. Sex and drugs have become normalized in the youth culture.

With no future or greater purpose to live for, young people even as young as 12 and 13 fill the void with promiscuous sex and drugs. In the larger cities, this destructive lifestyle has become so normalized among the youth that if a young person avoids these “fixes” for their hopelessness, they are considered weird and are ostracized.

  1. The spirit of fear has lifted from them.

While it is true that the Islamic government of Iran forbids such partying, the news media regularly report arrests of young people taking part in these activities. Unlike their parents and older siblings, who fear the consequences of such actions, the younger Persians assume that partying is the only pleasure they have.

They don’t care what the consequences are; they are not really afraid of the government. They say, “Kill me, kill me. I’m dead anyway.”

They aren’t afraid of Islam or Allah. They have rejected all religions and wanted secularism; they want to be like Americans.

  1. They discover that Christianity has a loving and forgiving God.

Yes, the drive toward secularism can become a challenge for sharing the Gospel. But these young people reject all religions because they assume that Christianity is just like Islam—or worse. So from just one broadcast on our Iran Alive satellite network, Network 7, they begin to see that Christianity is not what they thought before. The program speaks to what is in their hearts: that if there is a God, He is a loving and forgiving God.

Suddenly, they realize this Jesus is exactly what they need. They want Him, and they taste the hope He can give them. Now their lack of fear for the government and their understanding that they were “dead” in their life before Jesus becomes a huge positive for following Jesus. They are ready to live and die for Christ. The depth of their commitment frequently brings me to tears when we talk. We have to remind them to be careful so they can live and minister as long as they can!

As disciples, these young believers are ready to listen and be corrected. Unlike their parents, who would be offended by direct correction, the young people love straight talk. They become soldiers for Jesus, ready to run for the Lord.

  1. Jesus is moving in Iran, testifying about Himself through dreams and visions.

More than anything else, young people are choosing Christ because He is choosing them. We regularly receive testimonies from those to whom Jesus has appeared in a dream or vision. God is moving in Iran, according to His promise Jeremiah 49:38, “I will set my throne in Elam (Iran).”

This generation is so ready, so desperate. Give them a vision, give them a goal, and they will run with it.

We have in this current time an amazing opportunity to reach out and raise an entire generation of soldiers for Christ. I am grieved because time is passing, and we are merely harvesting the edges of a vast, ripe field. Many contact us weekly, and we cannot disciple them all in a meaningful way due to limited resources. We have to take in a few, and leave the rest outside the door.

Would you consider praying and thanking God for these young people? Would you consider joining in our efforts to give the youth in Iran hope in Christ and to transform Iran in this generation? You can find out more about our ministry through this link.


How Iran’s Hacking of Telegram Affects the Persian Underground Church

Day after day I am impressed by the maturity, faith, and resolve of the leaders of the underground church in Iran. They live in constant danger of arrest and torture, and yet they continue to obey the Great Commission and share their faith.

You see, they have experienced the love of Jesus, and the salvation He has given them is not something they can keep to themselves. They must pass on this good news to others, no matter the cost, no matter that the danger of saying anything to anyone about Christianity has grown even more perilous in these times.

Every Word Is Watched

Earlier this summer I told you about the creation of a 7,000 member non-visible police force as well as a new organization tasked with annihilating any activities outside Iran that could threaten the existence of the Islamic government of Iran. Both of these organizations have tamped down communication among Christians in Iran.

With the police in plainclothes, it is even harder for Iranians to know who is spying on them. The person they share their faith with could very well be leading them on so they can put them in jail.

These days, the Iranian government has gotten even more sophisticated in their control of the people and their attempts to silence anti-Islamic or anti-government speech. According to a new study by Collin Anderson and Claudio Guarnieri that will be published later this year, a Persian group known as Rocket Kitten has compromised over a dozen accounts of the end-to-end encrypted instant messaging service known as Telegram, allowing them to read incriminating chat histories.

Telegram telegram-iran-1074x483has become number one way for Iranians worldwide to communicate safely with each other.
According to Telegram itself, Iran is the number one user of this app in the world.

So even more alarming to users of the service than the hacking of these first few accounts was the news that the group also collected the Iranian phone numbers and user IDs of over 15 million users. This information will allow the group to continue to target Telegram accounts and arrest people who thought their encrypted communication was secure.

The researchers have declined so far to connect outright the hacking group to the Iranian government; however, they did note that they saw instances where compromised and targeted accounts preceded arrests in Iran. “We see a continuous alignment across these actions,” Anderson said.

The Church Keeps Growing

What does this news mean for the underground Church in Iran? Really, the news is nothing new. As always, the Islamic government of Iran is desperate to stop the growth of Christianity within its borders. It will continue to employ every means possible to spy on, intimidate, and eradicate opposition to Islam.

But God is moving in Iran, showing a new generation that His name is Jesus, and there is no other name by which they can be saved (Acts 4:12). These young people, with your prayers, will continue to share the Gospel.

So please pray for the believers of the Persian Church, that they will have the courage and boldness to obey God and preach His name no matter what the government says or what apps they hack. Pray that they can be creative and that the Holy Spirit will help them stay one step ahead of the authorities.

Related Articles:

“Lifeline from Nuclear Deal Helps Iran Oppress Its Own People,” June 2, 2016.

Reuters. “Hackers Accessed Telegram Messaging Accounts in Iran, Say Researchers.” The Guardian, August 2, 2016, sec. Technology.