Iranians are addicted to the internet. Seekers are flooding there to ask the questions they are not allowed to voice in public; new Christians are gathering there to learn and be discipled; believers are forming churches in cyberspace.
One internet pastor explained, “Much like a normal church, we have a weekly service, with music and prayer, and I will bring a message from Scripture. We [elders] also minister every night from 9pm to 6am. Seekers come online to ask their questions, new believers are taught and discipled, and people can receive counselling and prayer.” This intrepid pastor is a graduate of Elam’s leadership training program. Wherever possible, members of the ‘cyber-churches’ are connected to a local house church so they can have personal fellowship. “One guy came into our chat room and did not even believe in God: he came to faith, soon joined our pastoral team, and is now also serving in a house church. Praise God!”
The internet is a crucial part of evangelism and discipleship in Iran, and it deserves our prayers. Persecution of Christians is rampant in Iran, which makes reaching out hard. But Iranians are not just sitting back and waiting for the situation to improve: they are proactively making use of every tool at their disposal to share the message of Christ. “I think the internet will become increasingly important as time goes by,” reflected the pastor, “the authorities might be closing church doors, but technology is breaking down those doors.”