After the Iranian president died in a freak helicopter crash in May, a snap election was called. Despite heavy persecution, the Church in Iran is one of the fastest growing in the world. So will a change in leadership make their lives easier, or more difficult? And how can Christians pray?


Source: Reuters

In recent months, Iran has not not strayed far from the headlines. In April, Iran launched a massive aerial attack on Israel, two weeks after a deadly strike on its consulate in Syria. A month later, President Ebrahim Raisi died in a freak helicopter crash that also killed the foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and six other people. Now, in June, there will be an election to install a new president.

Amid this tumult and unfolding change, Iranian Christians are praying for their nation. Would you join them in praying for three things?

1. Those suffering under the oppressive regime

Ordinary Iranians are deeply disillusioned with their government after living under oppression and injustice since the Islamic Revolution of 1979. The anger of the people against their leaders was widely seen during the ‘Women Life Freedom’ protest movement of 2022. While these protests were eventually stifled, recent events - including the military hostility against Israel - have only widened the already colossal gulf between the government and the people.

So, when President Raisi - a lifelong hardliner with a formidable reputation for brutality - was declared dead on 20 May, it was not an occasion for grief for most Iranians.

Against all odds, the Church in Iran is one of the fastest growing in the world

Mahnaz*, a Christian leader in Iran, explains: “The death of the president has once again brought to the surface the deep anger and bitterness that many Iranians have in their hearts toward the regime.

“My prayer request is that the consolation of God would be with our people, that they come out of this trap of bitterness and hatred,” says Mahnaz.

Iranian Christians are praying for their fellow citizens to find comfort and healing from the injustices inflicted upon them, and the daily oppression under which they live.

Would you join them?

2. More Iranians to find hope in Christ

As Iran prepares to elect a new president on 28 June, Iranians are not hopeful of meaningful change for one key reason: the political system is built for continuity, not change.

The real leader in Iran is not the president but the unelected Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. His ‘Guardian Council’ has already eliminated scores of candidates from the presidential race, leaving just a handful in the running.

“This is not an election, it’s a selection,” says one Iranian Christian. “Only a person loyal to the Supreme Leader and the revolution stands a chance of election, which means nothing much is likely to change.”

Iran’s Church is bracing itself for another wave of persecution

A widespread lack of faith in the political process means there will be a very low voter turnout. For Iran’s Christians though, there is a more significant repercussion. “People are looking for hope,” explains Mehran*. “They have been severely let down by those in authority, but everyone needs hope.”

When Christians share that there is real, lasting hope found in Christ Jesus, many Iranians are curious to hear more. That’s one reason Iran’s Church is growing so fast.

Iranian Christians are praying for wisdom and courage to share about Jesus with friends, family and neighbours during this time, that many would have open hearts and that God’s beautiful kingdom would extend further in Iran.

Would you join them?

3. Those facing persecution for their faith

In seasons of transition or tension, the Iranian regime tends to tighten its oppressive grip on groups it deems to be threats. These groups can include political activists, journalists and ethnic minorities, but also religious minorities like the Baháʼí’s and converts to Christianity, who simply want to peacefully practice their faith.

That’s why Iran’s Church is bracing itself for another potential wave of persecution in this season.

“It’s possible we could see an increase arrests of Christians, among others,” says an Iranian lawyer who is a convert to Christianity. “Whenever Christians are arrested and prosecuted for their faith, they need our prayers. Iran’s prisons are not easy places.”

Amid the real challenges and pain of persecution, so many of those who have served time in prison for their faith report that God was faithful to them in their suffering.

Iranian Christians are praying that if a fresh bout of persecution comes, they will be ready to stand firm, and that God would sustain and uphold them for their good and his glory.

Would you join them?

Against all odds, and in the face of severe opposition, the Church in Iran has become one of the fastest growing evangelical churches in the world. Whatever the outcome of this week’s election, Iranian believers are praying for ever-deepening trust in the one who is writing their remarkable story.

Presidents rise and presidents fall, but Jesus is building his Church in Iran.

*Names have been changed for security reasons.

For more prayer resources and inspiring personal stories of Iranian believers, head to the Elam Ministries website