6th December 2017

Iran: fastest growing church in the world

Fiona Baird of NewHope Baptist talks about her work with Elam Ministries

I grew up attending NewHope Baptist Church in Blackburn North. In 2015, I moved to London with a two-year visa and a job as a primary school teacher. During that time, I had a change of direction, leaving teaching to serve with Elam Ministries, whose mission is to strengthen and expand the church in Iran and beyond. I worked in Elam’s UK office for almost 18 months before returning to Melbourne earlier this year.

I now have the privilege of serving as Elam’s Regional Director for Australia; sharing the story of Iran’s courageous church, and engaging the Australian Christian community with what God is doing in the heart of the Muslim world.

The story of Iran’s church in the last few decades is really remarkable:

Persecution threatened to wipe out Iran’s tiny church. Instead, the church in Iran has become the fastest growing in the world, and it is influencing the region for Christ.

Disillusionment with the Islamic regime has led to a remarkable openness to the Gospel across every sector of society in Iran. In 1979, just prior to Iran’s Islamic Revolution, there were an estimated 500 Christians from a Muslim background in Iran. Today, there are hundreds of thousands – some estimate over one million.

Iran’s government is deeply hostile toward the Gospel spreading, so the risk of facing persecution for converting to Christianity is high. Nevertheless, such is the openness of the Iranian people that wherever there is a witness to the Gospel, individuals, families and even whole communities are coming to Christ. In this context of unprecedented spiritual hunger, the Gospel is having a profound, transformational impact on the people of Iran.

We see evidence of this openness amongst Iranians here in Australia too. NewHope is home to a Persian-speaking community with Sunday services and a variety of weekly ministries led by Pastor Sam Farbod.

“Having our Persian brothers and sisters as part of our NewHope community has been one of the most impactful developments at NewHope in recent years. We have learnt so much from them. Their journey here has been far from straightforward and it is humbling and inspiring to see their hunger to know and serve Jesus more. It is a privilege to be part of this larger move of God across the world, and we’re glad to support Fiona, and Elam, as they seek to increase the impact of the gospel in the Iran region.” Danny Hunt, Associate Pastor

At Elam, we are determined not to let this season of openness pass without having done everything possible to strengthen this rapidly growing church. Our ministry priorities are:

• TRAIN leaders for fruitful and effective ministry in the Iran region.

• EQUIP the Iranian church with Bibles and resources for evangelism and discipleship.

• SEND the Gospel through trained evangelists, church-planters, satellite TV and internet ministries.

For more information about Elam and how you can pray for Iran please visit www.elam.com or contact Fiona by email: australia@elam.com

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