“Today Iran is home to the fastest growing church in the world. It’s almost entirely Muslim background. They have no denominational leaning or affiliation. They have no governmental recognition or legitimacy. They have no bank accounts. They have no 501(c)3. They have no centralized leadership. They have no Bible schools or seminaries. They own no properties or church buildings. And they possess no assets.”
The population is Iran is 83 million people. According the Joshua Project Islam is the primary religion at 97.8%. Interestingly, the annual growth rate of Christianity is 19.6% compared with the global rate of 2.6%. These stats can give us a glimpse of what God is doing, but what is like on the ground?
God is using young women to turn the country of Iran toward the gospel of Christ. Women who live under the threat of being raped or murdered for their beliefs are stepping boldly in the call of Christ to share the gospel. The church in Iran is a beautiful picture of something that many have known throughout Christian history, but few are willing to embrace in many of the western churches; God moves in and through the outcasts, the lowly, the unexpected.
When we do church in west, we start with a building or home and pastor who gives speeches for an hour or so each week. Interestingly, God did not call us to plant churches. He called us to make disciples. We can plant churches and not make disciples; I’ve seen it first hand. If we make disciples, churches will naturally grow. [By churches, I mean bodies of believers living on mission to make disciples of Jesus. Not just weekly gatherers.]
This documentary shook me. It highlighted things I’ve believed for years, but struggled to implement in churches where I have pastored. Disciples trickle in, but it always seemed that Sunday attendance and giving were primary goals. I’m not anti-gathering or anti-giving. I believe both are part of discipleship. But what are we giving to? What are we gathering for? Our entertainment? A Bible booster shot so we can have better marriages and well behaved children? Where is the fire to disciple people toward Jesus at any cost?
Over a year ago I heard a pastor say, “you count what you care about. If we care about people we need to know how many are attending our service.” I heard what he was saying, but I took a different turn. I actually stopped counting our Sunday attendance and began counting the number of people in discipleship relationships. Relationships where people are deeply cared for, prayed for, fed, and loved. Attending a service is a wonderful opportunity we have afforded to us, but if it is the entirety of our walk with God we will fall woefully short of the great commission, make disciples.
God is doing a great work in Iran through this very means. I pray that you will sit and watch this in light of the past tensions. Instead of fear, turn to prayer for the woman who are putting their lives on the line everyday in Iran. Instead of political siding, pray for the work of God’s kingdom to continue in Iran. And instead of asking God to do mighty works in your life, live on disciple making mission for him and watch what happens.
Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do. And he will do even greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it so that the Father may be glorified† in the Son. 14 If you ask me† anything in my name, I will do it.” — Will we see healing? Conversions? Miracles? Spiritual warfare won? Yes. If we believe in Jesus the disciple maker. Jesus who stretched his hand to the outcast. Jesus who empowered the lowly. Jesus who is God in the flesh, and still died for those he would call sons and daughters.
Take 2 hours and stream this to your tv. You will be inspired.