Monday, March 30, 2015

Too Many to Jail by Mark Bradley

The church in Iran has been growing vigorously, Bradley writes. There is overwhelming evidence there has been dynamic growth in the house church movement. He estimates that there are around 370,000 Christians among Iranians of Muslim background.

He gives a history of the last several decades to show how many in that country have become disillusioned with Islam. Many have turned to Jesus. Bradley says that “Iranians have an instinctive love for Jesus.” (104) They read about him in the Koran and see him as a peaceful man and a miracle worker.

Bradley shares why the house church movement allows for this growth. Christians can meet at different places and at different times. After persecution, they can regroup again. Women are frequently in leadership. They emphasize sharing testimonies. There is an expectation for God to be active so most of the house churches are charismatic.

While Anglicans and Presbyterians had missionaries in the country for over a hundred years, Ayatollah Khomeini effectively brought that to an end by 1979. At that time there was thought to be around 500 Christians in the country. Recently, the government has forced the closure of the services in Persian in most of the Protestant church buildings. “This means that the number of functioning public services in Persian can now be counted on one hand.” (154-5) He explains how the decadence of the west is associated with Christianity. Muslims feel that allowing Christianity freedom will lead to licentiousness, so it must be suppressed. Bradley includes a heartbreaking account of the persecution too.

Areas of difficulty for Christians in Iran include print materials (it is illegal to produce any Christian content in the Persian language in Iran) and training. Even so, Bradley says there is little heresy in Iran. He notes that satellite TV and Internet are used by thousands of isolated Christians.

This book is an encouraging account of Christianity in Iran. Bradley has included a number of inspiring testimonies. His review of the last several decades of the country's history is great for understanding the situation there today. He has included an extensive appendix with the history of Christianity in Iran prior to 1979 as well.

The author suggests to pray for the believers in Iran.

Mark Bradley is a researcher with a charity working in the Middle East.

Lion Hudson (distributed in the U.S. by Kregel), 303 pages.I received a complimentary copy of this book from Kregel for the purpose of an independent and honest review.

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