God began the evangelization of the Iranians on the Day of Pentecost.
We read in Acts 2:9 that the Spirit baptized believers in Jerusalem spoke about of the mighty deeds of God in the languages of the Parthians, Medes and Elamites. The descendants of these three ethnic groups still form a significant part of the Iranian population. Unfortunately, the early Gospel preaching never deeply penetrated Iranian society, and later Islam became the predominant religion. While the Islamic Revolution of 1979 has lost much of its appeal, most Iranians have very little opportunity to hear the Gospel.
People Groups of Iran
There are over 65 different people groups in Iran, a country that is 99 per cent Muslim. Less than a dozen ethnic groups in Iran have known believers among them.
The largest group is the Persians, numbering about 30 million. Eleven million people are from an Azeri background; they live mostly south and west of the Caspian Sea. Then there are the closely related Turkic Azeri, Turks of Khorasan and Turkmen of the north, as well as the 3 million Mazanderanis. The New Testament has recently been translated into Azeri.
2/3 under 30 Years Old in Iran
Other significant people groups include the Kurds in the northwest (5 million) and the Baluch in the southeast (623,000). There are few known believers among them. There are also the partly nomadic tribes who live in the Zagros Mountains of southwestern Iran: the Luri (5 million), Bakhtiari (1.15 million) and Qashqa’i (960,000). Many are illiterate and speak unwritten languages.
Another important element of Iranian society is that two-thirds of Iran’s 70 million people today are under 30 years of age, and half are under 20 years.
For more information about Iran, see the following websites: www.persianwo.org/, www.farsinet.com and www.shalizar.net.
Pray for the Muslims in Iran:
* Pray for a Christian fellowship to be established in all the ethnic groups of Iran.
* Pray for people to meet Christ in each of the 28 provinces of Iran, from the Kurds in northwest Iran to the Baluch in the southeast.
* Pray for the partly nomadic tribes (Luri, Bakhtiari and Qashqa’i). Pray for the effectiveness of recently developed radio broadcasts in their dialects.
* Pray that God would raise up Christian leaders in every major town and city of Iran.
* Pray that the Gospel message might penetrate into the remote villages of rural Iran.
* Pray for indigenous worship styles to be birthed and worship leaders to be raised up within the emerging churches.
* Pray especially for the youth of Iran to know God and be used by Him to take the Gospel of Christ to their nation. Pray for the younger generation to find their place and role in society.
* Bibles are in short supply within Iran. Pray for innovative and effective ways of distributing God’s Word. Pray for the impact of literature already distributed and that banning of Christian literature ministries might be ended.
* Pray for the authorities of Iran, including political leaders, local authorities, policemen, and imams, that they might come to know Christ and have wisdom to rule their land with righteousness and justice.
* Pray that Christian Internet sites dedicated to Iran will draw Iranians to Jesus Christ.
Background on Iran (World Factbook)
Known as Persia until 1935, Iran became an Islamic republic in 1979 after the ruling monarchy was overthrown and the shah was forced into exile. Conservative clerical forces established a theocratic system of government with ultimate political authority nominally vested in a learned religious scholar. Iranian-US relations have been strained since a group of Iranian students seized the US Embassy in Tehran on 4 November 1979 and held it until 20 January 1981. During, Iran fought a bloody, indecisive war with Iraq that eventually expanded into the Persian Gulf and led to clashes between US Navy and Iranian military forces between.
Iran has been designated a state sponsor of terrorism for its activities in Lebanon and elsewhere in the world and remains subject to US economic sanctions and export controls because of its continued involvement. Following the elections of a reformist president and Majlis in the late 1990s, attempts to foster political reform in response to popular dissatisfaction floundered as conservative politicians prevented reform measures from being enacted, increased repressive measures, and made electoral gains against reformers. Elections in 2009 caused protests and riots. Additional protests in March 2011 failed to elicit significant participation largely because of the robust security response, although discontent still smolders.
Economy of Iran
Relatively high oil prices in recent years have enabled Iran to amass nearly $60 billion in foreign exchange reserves, but have not eased economic hardships such as high unemployment and inflation. Private sector activity is typically small-scale workshops, farming, and services. Iran continues to suffer from double-digit unemployment and inflation – inflation climbed to a 28% annual rate in 2008. Underemployment among Iran’s educated youth has convinced many to seek jobs overseas, resulting in a significant “brain drain.”
Population: 78,868,711 (July 2012 est.) World rank #18
Life Expectancy at Birth: 70.35 years. World rank #147
Ethnic groups: Persian 51%, Azeri 24%, Gilaki and Mazandarani 8%, Kurd 7%, Arab 3%, Lur 2%, Baloch 2%, Turkmen 2%, other 1%
Religions: Shi’a Muslim 89%, Sunni Muslim 9%, Zoroastrian, Jewish, Christian, and Baha’i 2%
Languages: Persian and Persian dialects 58%, Turkic and Turkic dialects 26%, Kurdish 9%, Luri 2%, Balochi 1%, Arabic 1%, Turkish 1%, other 2%
Literacy: 77% — Male: 83.5%, Female: 70.4%
School life expectancy: 13 years