Iran Will Become a 'Christian Country,' Says Evangelical Pastor

An Iranian evangelical pastor has stated that eventually the Islamic Republic of Iran will become a "Christian country," even amid increased state-sponsored persecution.

Dr. Hormoz Shariat, founder of Iran Alive Ministries, told Family Research Council President Tony Perkins these things at an event sponsored by the FRC on Wednesday. "Iran will be a Christian country, and that's not up to me. It's Jeremiah 49:38 [that] promises that. We are moving in that direction fast," said Shariat.

"There is a spiritual vacuum in Iran and people are hungry spiritually. That's when we share the Gospel, share the Word of God through television people sit there for hours, take notes."

Shariat, who has a Christian broadcast that airs in Iran and has been dubbed "The Billy Graham of Iran," saw significant growth of Christianity in the nation.

"Iran is so open to the Gospel. So many people are come to Christ through our ministry in the US and in Europe, but especially in Iran," said Shariat. "As we share the Gospel through television, people come to Christ. And not just 'easy' believers, they have become dedicated followers of Jesus Christ."

Shariat's statements on the growth of Christianity in Iran correspond with a report by Open Doors USA, a persecution watchdog group. Open Doors reported in March that there was "explosive" growth of Christianity in the Islamic Republic, even while the regime of Iran is ranked by Open Doors as one of the worst persecutors of Christians.

Shariat's remarks came as part of an FRC webcast event titled "The Cry of the Martyrs: The Threat to Religious Liberty Around the World."

The webcast involved FRC President Perkins interviewing various experts on the issue of international religious intolerance, as well as videos on the painful experiences of those who endured persecution.

In addition to Shariat, other speakers for the webcast included Todd Nettleton, director of Media Development for Voice of the Martyrs; Dr. Thomas F. Farr, director of the Religious Freedom Project, Berkeley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs; and Emmanuel Ogebe, Nigerian Christian attorney.

In his conversation with Perkins, Ogebe talked about the anti-Christian violence in Nigeria being perpetuated by the terrorist organization Boko Haram. Ogebe has been a critic of the State Department's response to the persecution of Christianity in his homeland. In an October 2011 FRC event, Ogebe said the State Department was in "never-never land" when it came to the situation in Nigeria regarding religious persecution.

According to Perkins, over 100 nations restrict religious freedom and in at least 30 countries people are actively persecuted for their religious beliefs.

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