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