The decision to follow Jesus in Iran has a ripple effect for many families. The faith of one individual can be dangerous for every other family member. A Christian worker shared with us how persecution filters down through families in Iran and what effect following Jesus can have, even on those who do not believe.
1. Once Iranians are identified publicly as Christians, they can lose their jobs and the means of supporting their families.
Christians in Iran often face lives of poverty. Employers, communities, and neighbors do not want to be seen as sympathizers of the Western religion of Christianity. When Christians lose their jobs, they often struggle to find work anywhere else. Families suffer hunger and financial instability as a result of following Christ.
2. Children of Christians are often banned from attending schools.
Even if the children themselves are not believers, those who have Christian parents can often be excluded from schools and universities. After their parents are publicly identified by the police, children may lose their opportunities for an education and a future career. This can often cause parents great turmoil.
3. Christians sometimes must flee Iran, leaving family behind.
When persecution becomes so great that Iranian Christians feel they need to flee, they must say goodbye to their family and friends. Most will never return to Iran and enjoy the close relationships with family that they are used to. Some leave family in order to prepare a new home for them outside of Iran. Even in doing this, they are not certain that their families will be left unharmed until they can secure a better place.
4. The decision to follow Christ can often split families.
When Iranians choose to follow Jesus, their families are not always supportive. Out of fear of the government, families might forbid the Christian to go to church or to talk to them about Jesus. Some Christians may even be cast out of their families for a time.
5. Sometimes when one person believes, the whole family follows.
Not all effects on families in Iran are negative. New believers often share first with their closest family and friends, many times leading them to faith as well. Parents, children, aunts, uncles, and cousins can be greatly influenced by the changes they see in the life of one family member who is following Jesus.
Though families in Iran face many hardships when one person believes in Jesus, the potential for the gospel to spread through families is great. Please pray for families in Iran who are facing persecution. Pray that they might support each other as they walk with Christ. Pray also for the lone believers in Iranian families to be bold witnesses to lead the rest of their families to faith.