Christians located in Iran are risking their lives to lend aid to their Muslim neighbors. As the coronavirus pandemic continues to impact communities around the globe, churches are rising to the occasion to show the love of Christ.
Iran’s Underground Church Comes Above Ground
Underground churches in Iran are coming above ground to answer Jesus’ commandment to love their neighbors. According to Open Doors USA CEO David Curry, Christians in the Muslim-dominated country are risking their freedom by providing aid.
“It just began with people spending their own time and… money to make sure neighbors have the… support they need… The church [serves] as a rally point [and] centers of care and compassion for Muslim communities that they are living in,” Curry explained.
Although Curry couldn’t give much detail as to which churches are involved, he did say Iranian Christians were taking “extra risks.”
“The remarkable thing about the Iranian church is their ability to mobilize online networks into offline outreach in this highly restrictive, risk-laden environment.”
Persecution of the Iranian Church
Open Doors USA ranks Iran as the ninth-worst country in the world in regard to Christian persecution. The government, which is run by Islamic law, forbids churches from holding services in the nation’s most common language. The government will arrest those caught participating in underground worship gatherings.
The Iranian underground church, however, understands the risks. It believes that sharing the love of Jesus is important.
“The Church has always been strong in the underground among supporting each other. This is something different because they are having to come above ground…,” Curry said.
“They are starting in their pockets and their communities and neighbors, people they know who are hungry and need hygiene kits… But it has gotten more organized, which brings greater risk. They have not done this sort of above-ground relief before. It’s a historic thing.”
Iran and COVID-19
Iran has over 209,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus and over 9,800 have died. Over the past few weeks, the country has seen over 2,000 new cases each day.
The Iranian economy was already suffering prior to the pandemic. In fact, the Iranian leaders’ mismanagement of the COVID-19 crisis has all but debilitated the country’s financial landscape. The leaders have taken care of themselves while leaving the working class on their own.
“The added pressure of sanctions and the COVID pandemic shutdown has really hurt,” Curry said. “The leaders are always going to make sure they have theirs. But the working-class people, the elderly are suffering greatly in Iran.”
Curry also said the awareness of what the underground church is doing in Iran is good news for those who need it during these uncertain times.
“They need an example of the Church being the Church in the midst of the very intolerant situation. I just think it is a good example for us to stand up, be brave,” Curry said. “There are people in worse situations that are doing this and it is having a tremendous impact and it is the right thing to do.”