Hardline Iranian Gov't Unable to Quash Church Growth

A quiet Christian house-church movement in Iran is steadily growing even in the face of tremendous opposition, confirmed the head of a global faith-based ministry.

"That is exactly what I've discovered the last couple of days," reported Partners International President Jon Lewis after recently visiting Iran and hearing first-hand accounts from believers about their experience in the country.

Partners International, in partnership with Persian Ministry, had hosted a Bible training conference for 30 Iranians outside of their country last month as they have been doing quietly for more than six years.

"Partners has been assisting the Persian Ministry and its leader, Tony, since 2001. Through a radio broadcast ministry, Tony has been connecting with hundreds of new and existing believers all over the country," Partners International reported.

"From the Internet and through special relay phone calls, he (Tony) has discipled a number of Iranian Christians to become leaders of house-church clusters. Each year, he invites those leaders to choose several new believers or keen (and trusted) seekers from their fellowships and bring them to a week-long training event such as this one."

Christianity in Iran is reportedly growing and thriving well in Iran despite the harsh reality of living under President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's government, which strictly imposes Shariah (Islamic law) on its people. And although missionaries are not allowed to enter Iran, a growing number of Muslims have converted to Christianity and the number of Christians is increasing day by day.

According to a survey conducted by Fuller Theological Seminary's School of Intercultural Studies, the new number of new Christians in the world each year surpasses that of new Muslims with the major growth for Protestants coming through conversion. And the most influential factor attributed to such conversions is the lifestyle of Christians.

In 2000, Christians made up about 0.2 percent of Iran's total 70 million population.