With over 300 km of roads crisscrossing 686 sq meters of modern urban sprawl it is easy to get lost in Tehran: but not to be alone. There are about 11000 people living on each of the cities square kilometres and those roads are often in grid-lock as 15 million people, the population of Greater Tehran, move around. Tehran is the largest city in the Middle East, indeed the largest in Asia till you get to Karachi in Pakistan.
It is a mega city, and if there was religious freedom in Iran it would certainly have had mega churches by now like Singapore and Hong Kong. Nevertheless all the main denominations have impressive church buildings there: the Orthodox (Armenian and Assyrian), The Roman Catholic, the Presbyterians, the Anglicans, and the Assemblies of God Churches and they have faithfully kept their doors open to not just their own congregations, but to all – despite the government’s constant demands that they keep out Muslims. The bishops and priests of the Orthodox churches have faced the least pressure as their services are in Assyrian and Armenian, foreign languages for the Iranian Muslim. But the other churches have services in Persian, and their pastors need much wisdom in dealing with the authorities. An affront to their religion the government wants to completely end these services, but Tehran has a large diplomatic community, of whom some are Christian, and so though the officials have at times acted with impunity, in Tehran they tend to be more cautious when dealing with Christians.
In the late 1990’s some church leaders decided that for the church to really grow, there had to be freedom from government intimidation. And so they launched house fellowships which have experienced phenomenal growth, especially in Tehran. For when you’re in a city where it’s easy to get lost…that is a great help when you don’t want to be found.