We serve Christians around the world whose brave faith in Jesus means they are, beaten, threatened, imprisoned, tortured, falsely accused, disowned and hated.


World Watch List ranking: 9

How many Christians?

1.2 million (under 1.4% of the population)


Ayatollah Ali Khamenei


Iran is governed by strict Islamic laws - so much so Muslims are not meant to shake hands with Christians, touch them, or eat their food. Muslims who choose to convert to Islam can face the death penalty. Christians are monitored by the secret police. Homes and secret house church meetings can be raided. Those arrested face intimidation, physical and mental abuse as well as threats of execution.


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Could provide trauma care for a victim of violent persecution


“Jesus changed my life, and I still see how He changes people!”

Sanaz, a Christian convert in Iran


  • Iran is governed by strict Islamic laws.
  • In Iran Muslims are not meant to shake hands with Christians, touch them, or eat their food.
  • Muslims converting to Islam can face the death penalty.
  • Christians are monitored by the secret police. Homes and secret house church meetings can be raided.
  • Those arrested face intimidation, physical and mental abuse as well as threats of execution.
  • Christians who try to speak to Muslims about Jesus can be imprisoned, face physical abuse and harassment.
  • There are encouraging signs that religious freedom may be increasing – towards the end of 2021 a judge ruled that being a member of a house church could not be punished as a crime against the national interest.


Conversion from Islam to Christianity is illegal in Iran, and anyone caught as a convert can be arrested and imprisoned. The authorities view conversion as an attempt by the West to undermine Islam and the Islamic government of Iran. This means that anyone who is discovered to be a member of a house church can be charged with a crime against national security, which can lead to long prison sentences. Anyone arrested or detained can be tortured and abused while in jail. Some Christians are released and monitored – and know a second arrest would mean a long prison sentence. 

Christian converts who left Islam can also face pressure from their families and communities. Converts can lose their inheritance, unmarried Christians can be forced into marriage to a Muslim, and married believers may be forced to divorce or face losing their children.  

If you’re part of a traditional Christian community – Armenian or Assyrian Christian, for instance – your faith is likely to be more tolerated. But you will also be treated as a second-class citizen. In addition, you are not allowed to worship or read the Bible in Farsi, Iran’s language, or have any contact with Christians who have converted from Islam. If you’re caught supporting converts, you may be sent to prison. 


Sanaz’s Story

Sanaz* from Iran had an unusual path to finding Jesus. At first, she simply pretended to be a Christian. She’d heard that Iranian Christians were granted asylum in other countries, and she was desperate to leave after two failed marriages, drug abuse and no hope for her future. She decided to pretend to be a Christian – but God had other plans. 

“I encountered Jesus in a dream one night,” Sanaz says. “It was an amazing encounter. He talked to me and asked me to stay in Iran, because He had plans for me here.”

It wasn’t long before Sanaz chose to commit her life to Jesus – this time for real! “When I felt God’s love as a Heavenly Father, it really filled my empty heart,” she shares. “Jesus transformed my life; He gave me life!” 

And what was Jesus’s plan for Sanaz in Iran? To help transform other people’s lives, too. She had leadership training from Open Doors partners, and now serves 100 families with monthly food packages, as well as providing clothes, educational materials for children, and supporting women caught in drug addiction. “Jesus changed my life, and I witnessed and still witness how he changes people!” she says, with delight. 

Her ministry comes with a cost. Once, a group of boys attacked her with stones. Another time, the father of someone she was helping beat her up. “He said he will never let his family receive any help from infidels like me,” she says. But Sanaz stays faithful, counting the cost and persevering. 

“Please pray that God would bring more workers to the field as many are thirsty for the truth,” she says. “Pray that God would continue protecting me and all the sisters and brothers who are serving inside and outside our church as they face rejection and persecution yet continue fearlessly.” 

Saghar’s miraculous escape from Iran

Saghar managed to escape the secret police, who wanted to arrest her for leading a house church. Here’s her astonishing story of courage and miracles .

Mojtaba’s Story

Mojtaba from Iran was imprisoned for leading a house church. In this video, he shares how God used his imprisonment to help share the gospel with the least and the lost.

Maryam’s Story

After four years’ imprisonment for ‘violating national security’, Iranian Christian Maryam Naghash Zargaran was released from Tehran’s Evin prison in August 2017. Open Doors held a worldwide letter-writing campaign for her during her time in prison; unfortunately, most of the letters were withheld from her. Now released, she is finally able to read your encouraging words!

Are things getting better for Christians in Iran?

News has been mixed from Iran in the past year. While some Christians were released early from prison sentences for belonging to house churches, there was also another wave of mass arrests in July 2023. Some released prisoners have also been re-arrested. Overall, the situation remains very risky – but God is still working and moving among His people, and continues to grow the church in Iran. 

How Open Doors is helping

Open Doors raises prayer support for the Christians in Iran. 


Heavenly Father, we pray for our brothers and sisters in Iran who risk so much to follow You. We think of those in prison for their faith – be with them, right now, showing them Your grace and mercy. We also think of those forced to flee the country; be with them and help them to know they aren't alone. Finally, we pray that You would strengthen the courage of the underground church in Iran. Thank You for their example, and may they couple wisdom with boldness. Amen. 


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