Iran's underground church movement grows with international help

Despite the persistent persecution of Christians in Iran, the underground church movement in the country has been growing with the help of a London-based organization.

(YOUTUBE / PressTV Videos)A screengrab from a video report showing Iranian Christians celebrating Christmas in church.

The Pars Theological Centre is training at least 200 Iranian Christians to become church leaders who will help in church expansion efforts. An unnamed insider told The Christian Post that Pars believes the secret movement will help transform Iran into a better society.

"Pars sees this as a real chance to train agents of change who would transform the Iranian society from the bottom up by fostering a grassroots development of the values of Jesus in an Iranian style," the unnamed source said. "This is not a political movement at all, but it will have political implications because it is touching the core foundations of society. This is battling prostitution and drug addiction. If you want to live in a country that doesn't fund terrorists, you have to develop the values of the grassroots."

The source also said Pars is not anti-Iranian, but it is an Iranian movement wherein a lot of Muslims are embracing Christianity.

Since the Shi'ite Muslim government rose to power in 1979, Christians have been constantly threatened, imprisoned, killed, and tortured for their faith. In 2010, the country's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Iran's underground churches are a threat to the Islamic faith.

Nevertheless, the secret movement of Christian churches in Iran continues to grow, and Open Doors USA estimates that there are now around 450,000 practicing Iranian Christians. Other groups estimate the number to be more than 1 million, the report details.

Christians in Iran worship secretly in various house churches with only four or five members each to keep from being detected. The source also said the house church members are forced to sing quietly when they worship and change their meeting place regularly.

Hundreds of thousands of Christians are worshiping secretly in a rapidly accelerating house church movement in Iran, as a London-based theological center is aiding the movement by training the next generation of its spiritual leaders.

Pars was founded by Rev. Mehrdad Fatehi in 2010.

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