Iran is predominantly Shi'a Muslim, with Christianity, Baha'i and Zoroastrianism as minorities.
Islamic extremism causes persecution of minority groups, and although ethnic Christians (Armenian and Assyrian people groups) are allowed to practice their faith amongst themselves, ethnic Persians are considered Mulsim. Converting from Islam is punishable by death for men, and life imprisonment for women.
The figures on religious groups are the official figures issued by the Iranian government. As Christian converts from Islam are highly persecuted and the church has been forced underground, the true percentage of Christians is unknown. For more on persecution in Iran see 'Government and persecution'.
After the revolution in 1979, the pre-revolution family planning programme was suspended, causing the population to double between 1979 and 1991 (31 million births). It was not until 1989, with the reintroduction of the family planning programme, that Iran was able to bring its population growth rate back to a manageable level.
Today, over 50% of the population is under 30 years of age. Iran's economic growth has been unable to produce the necessary employment opportunities for this change in population, resulting in many social-economic issues. These include a high unemployment rate (10.5%), increased demand on housing, and the potential for a second wave of increased birth rates. In addition Iran is experiencing high levels of inflation, substance abuse, depression, prostitution, religious persecution and an inherently inhospitable environment towards women. Of the estimated 600,000 prostitutes in Iran, many are runaways who have fled abusive families, or are extremely poor with no other way of earning a living. Thousands of Iranian women and girls have been sold into sexual slavery abroad.
Farsi is the official language of Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan, with over 60 million native speakers among them. Due to the long history of persecution, political unrest and conflict in these nations, there has been a steady flow of refugees and migrants leaving their home countries and settling overseas. This diaspora is mainly focused in neighbouring countries and North America, with the European population increasing gradually.
222 Ministries has established churches throughout the diaspora and is committed to bringing the Good News and raising disciples of Jesus wherever Farsi speakers are settled.
Iran is a hugely diverse nation. Within a population of 80 Million people, there are 97 different people groups, 87 of which are classified 'unreached'.
An unreached people group is a people group amongst which there is no indigenous community of believing Christians with adequate numbers and resources to reach this people group without outside assistance. 222 Ministries is committed to bringing the Good News to all people groups across Iran and the rest of the Farsi-speaking world. Read 222 Founder Lazarus Yeghnazar’s article on unreached people groups.