Elam Ministries was founded in 1988 by senior Iranian church leaders with a vision to serve the growing church in and around Iran. From the beginning, Elam Ministry’s passion has been to train and equip Iranian Christians to reach and disciple their countrymen. In 1990 six emerging leaders arrived in England from Iran to begin their full-time ministry training. They lived in a small, two-bedroom flat and used the kitchen as a classroom. Since then, Elam has seen many years of God’s faithfulness. By God’s grace, the ministry is growing and is being used to strengthen and expand the church in Iran in a significant way. Despite intense persecution, the Church in Iran is growing and the Gospel is spreading like wildfire.
Our Elam contact reports: “When I lived in Iran, the country was very open. Christians were mostly free to worship, the Bible Society was there, and Bibles were available in the book stores. You could evangelize people on the street and not have to worry about being thrown into prison. But people’s hearts were closed. They would say, politely, ‘Please keep your Western religion to yourself.’
“Now, it has turned around. The country is hostile to Christianity – believers face imprisonment and torture for apostasy – but people are hungry for the Gospel; their hearts are open!
“Our people, when they receive the New Testament and when they read it, they say, ‘We cannot put it down because it talks about love and forgiveness! A loving God, who, no matter how filthy we are, takes us and transforms our lives. This is amazing; we don’t have this in our book.’ They are incredibly responsive to the Gospel!
“Ministry in Iran today is indigenous. The country is, obviously, not open to missionaries. But Iranians are reaching out to their own people and their outreach is so fruitful! I have taken Americans to Iran and when they began talking to Muslims about Jesus, they were told, ‘No thanks, I’m not interested in an American religion.’ However, when an Iranian – one of their own – starts speaking, then their curiosity is aroused. ‘How are you a Christian when you are an Iranian? What is different about you?’
“I believe that the Church is growing to today first, because the Church is so courageous, and secondly because Iranians are reaching their own people – God has changed their lives and they are sharing their testimony with their friends and families.
“I wish you could sit down and talk with these people – because they are real people! I have spent time with them. Farshid was in the training center at Elam in London. He has no other agenda but love; he loves the Lord and his heart is to set toward his people, to preach the Gospel to them and set them free from the bondage of Islam. We saw him a handful of months before he was imprisoned. Now he is being held in Evin, the most notorious prison in Iran, reserved for the worst criminals. [Note: Pastor Farshid Fathi was arrested Dec. 26, 2010 and sentenced to 6 years in prison.]
“But Farshid is taking prison as an assignment from God and many people are coming to Christ through his testimony. If you could meet these people, you would be so amazed at how JOYFUL they are in the Lord! It is humbling the commitment and love they have for the Lord regardless of what will happen to them. While we know in our heads we ought to be ready to lay down our lives for the Gospel, these people live it out. They are not afraid of death or intimidated by suffering. They tell their prison guards, ‘You can take our physical bodies, but you cannot take the Spirit from us.’
“Pray for them. Pray. We need more people to pray. People don’t pray because they don’t know.”
Smyrna is helping to assist families of imprisoned house church pastors. Additionally, they are producing New Testaments and Bibles in Farsi (Persian), and training house church leaders and pastors for outreach in one of the fastest growing Christian populations in the world. In 2014 Elam ministries completed the first full translation of the Bible into Farsi (Persian). Since then, they have witnessed the great thirst and hunger for His Word in Iran by giving out over 1,000,000 copies! Their goal for 2017 is to distribute another 1,000,000 copies of the Bible in Farsi.
Keep the staff at Elam in your prayers, as well as those who are in prison in Iran for their faith. Ask God to use their sacrificial love to bring many to Himself.