Encouragement for the Persecuted Church

In the small country of Armenia, we recently gathered in secret with 15 Iranian believers to teach them a new way to hide the Scripture in their heart so they could share their faith without access to a physical Bible.

These Iranians, who live under the threat of arrest or even execution for professing Christ as Savior, owning a Bible or sharing their faith, traveled across the border to Armenia — a safe-haven for Christians — for a rare in-person gathering where they could talk openly about Jesus.

“They received the teaching with such enthusiasm and hunger,” explained Equipping Evangelist, who led the training. “It was wonderful.”

Equipping Evangelist has long desired to encourage Christians in Iran who have limited access to Christian community and teaching.

Three years ago, an Iranian friend of Equipping Evangelist, who lives as a refugee in Turkey, began reaching out on Instagram to other Iranians. As M* shared the gospel from afar, three women came to Christ inside Iran, and she began discipling them over video calls. Since 2020, M has led 300 people to Christ, and she and her husband, A*, meet weekly with more than 100 of them online.

With the support of generous partners who provided funding to do a training session, M and A selected 15 Iranians from their weekly group to participate.

Iran is surrounded by countries like Iraq, Afghanistan and Azerbaijan — all perilously hostile to Christianity — but just to the north, smaller than the state of Maryland, sits Armenia, a haven to Christians and home to many Iranian refugees.

The 15 Iranians traveled by bus across the border into Armenia, meeting secretly with M, A, Equipping Evangelist and JP Lindsey. None of the Iranians had ever met in person before getting on the bus.

This was the first chance for many of these believers to be baptized.

Equipping Evangelist took them through level one of Heart Bible for the Nations, an evangelism method built on Bible storytelling. They learned to tell and teach six stories from the book of Mark, which focus on Jesus as Lord. As they practice these stories, they will not only benefit spiritually but also gain tools for sharing the gospel with other Iranians.

When they left Armenia, they left their physical Heart Bible materials behind, knowing it would be too dangerous to take Bible content back into Iran.

“It’s perfect,” Equipping Evangelist explains, “because it’s meant to be in your heart.”

The encouragement of simply being with other believers was invaluable to them. One Iranian joked, “I’m not going back!” But we pray that God will strengthen these 15 believers and surround them with encouragement in the midst of persecution back home.

If they are able to put those six stories into practice, Equipping Evangelist will return in August, Lord willing, to walk them through a second level of Heart Bible training.