EXCLUSIVE: 20 Iranian Christians Embark on Secret Journey to Celebrate Baptism – CBN News George Thomas

EXCLUSIVE: 20 Iranian Christians Embark on
Secret Journey to Celebrate Baptism
09-29-2017CBN News George Thomas

Undisclosed Location in Middle East – This may come as a
surprise to many of our readers: Christianity is growing
faster in Iran than in any other country in the world.

The population there is overwhelmingly Muslim, yet tens of thousands are abandoning the faith.

On a recent Friday afternoon, some 600 miles east of Tehran, not too far from the 

Afghanistan – Turkmenistan border….

…20 Iranians were preparing to make a secret journey out of their country.

CBN News has concealed their identities and changed their names out of concern for their safety.

“I’ve been waiting for this moment for nearly nine years,” said Hediyeh.

The mission took months to prepare. It was fraught with danger.

“This was my wish before I die,” Fariborz told CBN News.

Afarin helped arrange their travel.

“The moment the Iranian government discovers someone has changed their religion, they will try 

everything to stop the person from sharing their new faith with others,” Afarin said.

The 20 abandoned Islam for Christianity. Most paid a price for converting.

“The government scares Christians, imprisons them, fires them from their jobs, kicks them out of 

school, and many other tactics– all in an effort to stop them from evangelizing.”

Afarin knew what they were about to experience could land them in trouble. CBN News met 

them shortly after they left Iran.

And this is why they left Iran for a few days.

All 20 got baptized for the first time!

WATCH: CBN News was given exclusive behind-the-scenes
access to film the baptism of Iranian Christians 

CLICK HERE: IRANIAN CHRISTIANS
“Inside Iran, if the government found out that you were baptized, you would be automatically
imprisoned,” said Paul, an American who travels frequently to Iran.

“So rather than do that inside their country, they came outside,” 
he added.
One-by-one the young and old got dunked.
Men, women and children…
…all of whom had renounced Mohammed…
…and made professions of faith in Jesus Christ made their way into a swimming pool rented for the occasion.
53-year-old Fariborz waited 10 years for this moment.
“I accepted Christ when I was 43-years-old,” Fariborz told CBN News. 
“There was no way for me to get baptized in Iran because of the 
dangers we face. Today, my faith is complete.”
Sixteen-year-old Bita accepted Christ four years ago.
“I became a Christian after seeing Jesus in a dream,” Bita recalled.
“As I was getting baptized this morning, I felt the Holy Spirit come 
upon me in a new way.”
Entire families were baptized.
“It feels very good,” said Majid, whose father, mother and sister took part in the celebrations.
“I’m very happy. My whole family is happy,” he exclaimed.

And what makes this baptism all the more significant is that the majority of the Iranians in 

attendance have come from the nation’s second-largest city of Mashhad, which also happens
to be one of Shia Islam’s holiest cities.

Elahe was a devout Muslim, but said the Koran left her with 
more questions than answers.
“This was the appointed time for me to get baptized,” Elahe said.
“I know God used the past 11 years to grow my faith so I could 
endure difficult times.”
Iranian experts like Mike Ansari say her testimony, and that of 
many others, points to evidence that God is advancing his kingdom 
in Iran.
“We have never seen such an unprecedented growth of an 
underground church anywhere else before.”
Ansari, an Iranian by birth, is director of operations at Mohabat TV.
In 2006, Mohabat TV became the first 24-hour Farsi Christian 
satellite TV channel to beam gospel programs into Iran.
The majority baptized on this weekend came to faith by watching 
Mohabat TV.
“Some of these believers waited for many, many years to be baptized,” 
Ansari told CBN News.
“They want to tell the world that they belong to Jesus, they want to 
tell the world that what was before is dead and now they are a 
new creation and they are walking with boldness and with authority.”
Ansari believes many Iranians, especially the young, feel disillusioned 
with Islam and are tuning-in to the channel in record numbers to 
learn more about Christianity.
“Roughly about 16 million Iranians within the last 12 months have 
viewed one or more of our programs on satellite TV, and also on 
their mobile device. That roughly translates to about 20 percent of 
Iran’s population, and that is an overwhelming number.”
Mohabat is now one of four satellite TV channels broadcasting 
continuous Christian programming into Iran.
“Since we didn’t know other believers or were part of a house church, 
there was nobody to help us grow in our faith. We could only grow
through watching Mohabat TV and with the Holy Spirit’s help to get 
stronger in our faith,” Elahe said.
Nathan Rostampour led a house church in Iran for 10 years until 
he was forced to flee because of religious persecution.
Now he has a show on Mohabat TV teaching folks how to safely 
run a house church inside Iran.
“God is using this house church show to not only share the gospel, 
but to also equip the house churches and make leaders,” 
Rostampour told CBN News from an undisclosed location.
And those who track Christianity around the world say the one place 
where the faith is growing the most is in the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Edward Hovsepian says this is nothing short of a miracle.
“We have been praying for years that Iranian people believe in 
Jesus and get baptized. Now, this dream is coming true.”
His brother, Haik Hovsepian, an Assemblies of God pastor, was 
murdered in Iran for his faith in 1994.
He says no matter how hard the government tries, it hasn’t been 
able to stop the spread of Christianity.
“The government is afraid of Christianity,” claimed Hovsepian. 
“They are very sacred of the Bible and they realize many Iranians 
are attracted to Christianity.”
“The government persecutes them, hoping to undo the effect, 
but the result is the opposite as more come to faith,” he added.
After a few days of fellowship, teaching and encouragement, 
the 20 believers returned to Iran, energized and committed to 
sharing the love of Christ with their countrymen.  
“This was a special event, it was amazing,” exclaimed an ecstatic 
Hediyeh as she prepared to head home.
Each person got a new Bible in the Farsi language…
…along with Christian books, children’s videos and tiny microchips 
containing hundreds of discipleship and other evangelistic resources.
The group spent several minutes praying over the materials as they 
prepared to make the journey home.
Hovsepian urged Christians to remember Hediyeh, and the others 
Iranians, as they continue to preach the gospel inside Iran.
“Pray for those who are under persecution, that by God’s grace they
 will get stronger and find strength to tolerate these difficult days so 
that God’s work continues,” Hovesepian said.
Ansari says these exclusive images….
…of Iranians getting baptized should encourage Christians that God 
is moving on the hearts of Iranians.
“There is a lot of good news that is coming out of Iran and we need 
to focus on that and celebrate that,” Ansari told CBN News.
“We hope that the results that are being shared with the church in the 
West would encourage the Body of Christ in the Western world that God is 
very much alive among Muslims and He’s doing a great job,” he added.

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