Christians in Muslim-majority Iran are risking arrest to provide food and humanitarian aid to their neighbors struggling without jobs during the coronavirus pandemic, according to the head of one of the world’s most prominent Christian persecution watchdogs.
David Curry, CEO of Open Doors USA, an organization that monitors persecution in 60 countries, told The Christian Post that underground churches in Iran have surfaced amid the COVID-19 crisis to answer Jesus’ call to love their neighbors.
“It just began with people spending their own time and their own money to make sure neighbors have the care and support they need because of lost incomes and the COVID pandemic fallout,” Curry said, adding that efforts have become more organized over time as local church networks have gotten involved.
“The church [serves] as a rally point [and] centers of care and compassion for Muslim communities that they are living in,” he explained.
For security reasons, Curry could not go into detail about how many churches are involved in distributing aid and how the aid distribution works. He said that churches, which are already under tremendous societal pressure, are taking “extra risk” by trying to organize help for people who are struggling.
“The remarkable thing about the Iranian church is their ability to mobilize online networks into offline outreach in this highly restrictive, risk-laden environment,” Curry explained.
Iran is ranked by Open Doors USA as the ninth worst country in the world when it comes to Christian persecution.
Iranian society is governed by Islamic law and churches are banned from holding services in the nation’s most common language, Farsi. People caught attending underground house churches face arrest and many are arrested every year.
“The Church has always been strong in the underground among supporting each other,” Curry stated. “This is something different because they are having to come above ground, so to speak. They are starting in their pockets and their communities and neighbors, people who they know who are hungry and need hygiene kits and things like that. But it has gotten more organized, which brings greater risk. They have not done this sort of above-ground relief before. It’s a historic thing.”
The bold effort comes as the Iranian economy was hit hard over the last few years. The situation has gotten worse thanks to alleged mismanagement of the COVID-19 crisis by Iranian leaders.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith