By BosNewsLife Middle East Service
TEHRAN, IRAN (BosNewsLife)-- Missionaries say they have been able to distribute more than 18,000 Persian New Testaments ahead of Easter in Iran despite reports of persecution.
"This is the good news from evangelists who are in the midst of two-weeks of dedicated outreach to mark 'Norouz' (Persian New Year)," said Elam Ministries, a mission group founded by Iranian church leaders.
In a statement to BosNewsLife the group said "Norouz always heralds intensive evangelism for Iranian churches, and this year New Testaments are being snapped up thick and fast."
The group claimed over 6,000 New Testaments were distributed in one city alone. "They are so popular that the evangelists are in danger of running out."
It cited one outreach team as saying that a man in a shopping mall "gratefully received a New Testament". He met the team one hour later and "excitedly told them that he had already read over 200 pages of the Scriptures."
"HUNGER FOR WORD"
Elam noted "a great hunger for the Word" of God. "Evangelism is also happening on buses, on city streets, and at cultural events. The outreach teams are finding that people are curious and open to reading the Gospel of Jesus."
Missionaries say that since the 1979 Islamic revolution, Iranians have become increasingly disillusioned with Islam. "The political, economic, and spiritual situation in Iran has resulted in a deep spiritual hunger for truth. Iran may be a closed land, but the people have open hearts," Elam Ministries explained.
"Iranians today are seen as the most open Muslim people to the Gospel in the world. More have become Christians since the revolution than the previous 1,300 years put together," the group added.
"Today the most conservative estimate is that there are some 100,000 believers in the nation," up from just 500 known Christians in 1979, Elam said.
Church leaders claim "millions can be added to the church in the next few years" due to "spiritual hunger" exists and "disillusionment" with the "Islamic regime". Several Christians remain detained in the strict Islamic country for their open expression of faith in Jesus Christ, including former Muslims who embraced Christianity.