Iranian Christians; Good News and Bad News
First the good news:
"We’ve got confirmed reports of groups of Muslim convert believers doubling in size in the last six months," Carl Moeller, president of Open Doors USA, said.
Paul Marshall, a senior fellow at the Center for Religious Freedom at the Hudson Institute, agreed. Marshall said Iran has been experiencing a youth backlash against Islam, Middle East Newsline reported.
"There are indications that with the deep unpopularity of the regime that people are turning away from Islam," Marshall said in an interview with the U.S. television network Fox.
Now the bad news:
On May 11, Moeller said, at least eight people were arrested in Shiraz on charges of abandoning the Islamic faith. Such a crime was punishable by up to life in prison.
One suspected organizer of Christian activity in Shiraz was identified as Mojtaba Hussein. The 21-year-old Hussein, believed to have organized house churches, remained in prison after his colleagues were released.
"He [Hussein] may not be willing to give up the names of other Muslim converts," Moeller said. "He may not be willing to recant his faith himself."
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has proposed a law that would impose capital punishment on any Muslim who leaves his faith. Christian activists said many young Muslims, dismayed by the abuses of the Islamic regime, have been interested in Christianity and other religions.
"Seeing Muslims converting to Christianity is directly threatening to an Islamic regime," Moeller said.
The irony, of course, as demonstrated here, is that the bad news is helping the good news come about. But then, that’s the paradox of persecution. No one wishes persecution on those Christians, and we pray for its end, but at the same time that persecution is opening the eyes of many.
Jesus asked in Gethsemane that, if there was any way other than suffering and dying to redeem mankind, He’d prefer that, but ultimately "may your will be done". I think that should be our prayer for Iranian Christians; please let this persecution pass, but may Your will be done.
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