Voice of Martyrs: Iran Now Has the World's Fastest Growing Church

The fastest growing church in the world is found in a country most people probably won’t expect.
Photo: Iranian Christians stand in line at a church to cast their votes during elections for the parliament and Assembly of Experts, which has the power to appoint and dismiss the supreme leader, in Tehran February 26, 2016. Reuters/Raheb Homavandi/TIMA

The fastest growing church in the world is found in a country most people probably won’t expect.

This country is where the church’s growth spurt is fastest, according to Todd Nettleton from The Voice of the Martyrs.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran is actually the place in the world where the Church is growing the fastest, something that would be pretty surprising to most Christians,” Nettleton said.

Ironically,Open Doors lists Iran as number nine among the top ten countries where believers are most persecuted. Additionally, it is illegal for Muslims to convert to Christianity.

“So it is a country that has worked very hard to eliminate Christianity, and particularly to eliminate Muslim conversion to Christianity. But it’s the place in the world where the Church is growing the fastest,” Nettleton said.

In 2015, the number of Christians in Iran grew 19.6 percent. The reason for this growth spurt is that people today are rejecting Islam because of its “failure” to make things work for the country.

Open Doors also referred to the increasing number of Christians in Iran, saying, “even children of political and spiritual leaders are leaving Islam for Christianity.”

Nettleton said many Iranian Christians said Ayatollah Khomeini was “the greatest missionary in Iran.” Khomeini was responsible for converting Iran into an Islamic republic in 1979, saying the country would be run “according to what Mohammed would have us do … according to the Koran.”

However, more than three decades later, problems like poverty and corruption in government still exist.

“So if the government doesn’t work, if there’s still corruption, if there’s still poverty, then that must mean Islam doesn’t work…. That failure has really, in the eyes of the people of Iran, become the failure of Islam,” Nettleton explained.

He said he had heard reports saying as much as 70 percent of Iranians have rejected Islam. Many of them no longer believe that Islam is the truth and the way. Yet, when they hear the gospel, they say “this is true … this is right,” Nettleton added.

He said American churches can learn from the Iranian churches in that Americans should stop reacting negatively about the things that are going on in the country. He cited an example.

“There are many American Christians who look at what’s happening in our country, they look at the presidential elections, they look at the Supreme Court decisions, and they say, ‘Oh no! The government is turning against Christianity. Christian principles are no longer being honored in Washington D.C. What’s going to happen to us?’”

Iranian Christians experienced intense persecution but grew despite the harsh conditions, putting their faith in Christ and not on the government. Nettleton said American churches can learn from their example as they continue to “serve the Lord and see what He does.”

However, he emphasized this does not mean Americans should stop fighting for religious freedom.

“Our reliance needs to be on God, not on the protections offered by the Constitution, or the political process, or the U.S. government,” he said. “Now I’m not saying don’t vote, I’m not saying don’t speak out. But understand that ultimately our reliance is on God.”

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