Chris Lange, FISM News
Amid soaring global tensions in the Middle East, a small but fearless group of Christians risks life and limb to reach some of the most restricted areas in the region with the Gospel.
The effort involves underground Bible printing presses and brave couriers who smuggle God’s word into Iran at great risk to themselves and their families.
One press worker recently offered a rare glimpse into the covert operation and the mettle required to share the Gospel in regions where conversion from the Muslim faith to Christianity results in extreme persecution and even death.
“I have been arrested three times, and they tried to kill me five times,” the worker told Brian Orme, chief communications officer at Global Christian Relief (GCR), who visited two of the presses, according to a Faithwire report.
“Once they did really bad things to my children to try to make me deny my faith,” the press operator, referred to as “Simco” on GCR’s website, said. He credited the “prayers of believers” and “Christ’s protection” with saving his life. Simco declared that he and his fellow workers who are still alive remain committed to spreading the Gospel and stressed the need to print more Bibles.
Orme and a small team recently visited the “secret Bible-publishing warehouse” where Simco works and shared a video showcasing stacks of tens of thousands of copies of the New Testament awaiting delivery. The video, which conceals the location of the press and the faces of its operators due to security concerns, also shows couriers traversing hilly terrain with Bibles strapped to their backs in orange nylon bags.
Simco described one particular encounter with a man who was overjoyed to receive a copy of the Bible an episode that underscores why Simco and his fellow laborers for Christ are committed to the operation.
“When he took the Bible from me, he said that ‘this is the most important book on Earth,’” Simco explained. “Because of this, I will never give up.”
‘THEY FEEL THE FREEDOM AND LOVE OF GOD’
Bible smugglers use secure drop-off sites to protect their identities as well as the identities of those who retrieve what is considered contraband in the Muslim theocracy, according to a Christian Mission Network News report published in September 2021. In addition to printed copies, the Bible is also disseminated via secure digital (SD) cards.
A smuggler named “Joe” referenced in the article explained why he believes that he is justified in violating Iranian laws that forbid Bible ownership.
“We’re supposed to render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s,” he said. “Whenever Caesar starts opposing God and His love, I’m willing to step beyond Caesar at that point.”
IRANIANS ARE OPEN TO THE GOSPEL MESSAGE
Iran was ranked as the eighth most dangerous country for Christians in Open Doors’ 2023 World Watch List. The Christian persecution watchdog estimates that there are 1.245 million Christians living in Iran, where more than 5,600 believers were killed for their faith in 2022.
Joe explained that many Iranians are actually quite open to learning about the Gospel, which he said is likely “due to the oppression and the persecution that they’ve endured. They’re rebelling, and within that rebellion, they meet Christ Jesus. They feel freedom and the love of God.”
The article notes that Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi enacted new laws in 2021 that increased punishment for Christian converts, including harsher prison sentences and mandatory Islamic “re-education.”
There are more than 300 million Muslims living in the Middle East who “don’t know the love and saving grace of Jesus Christ,” according to GCR, which added that “a copy of the Bible can change everything.” The organization urged believers to pray for the safety of Simco and others like him and that the Gospel will continue to spread in Iran and other Muslim nations.