Preparing for Persecution

Why join the course?

One of the greatest challenges many Christians in Iran face, either individually or as a church, is the reality of persecution, which threatens to halt Church growth, divide the faith community, and suppress the positive impact they can have on wider society. This challenge can either make or break the Church; it can either help it become more mature and vibrant, or have a destructive impact. What changes the outcome, Article18 believes, is one’s attitude and level of preparedness for persecution.

This online course will help you understand persecution, learn about your rights, and make you able to manage risks individually or as a faith community.

Guided by the course leader, Mansour Borji, you will learn how to recognise threats that could harm you or your church, and take steps to reduce the risks. The course will frame your right to religious freedom and peaceful Christian activities in the context of biblical, as well as legal, definitions and practices, introducing concepts like advocacy, self care, risk management, incident response, and digital security.

We believe this course is essential for your life and ministry, as it equips you to think and prepare more intentionally about persecution and suffering, effectively helping you and your church for a more effective witness.

A short introduction by course presenter

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What topics will you cover?

Historical and global perspective on persecution

  • What is religious persecution?
  • Why is it important to have a correct definition?
  • Legal definitions
  • Biblical definitions
  • Towards an inclusive definition of religious persecution
  • Our working definition
  • Sources of persecution
  • Persecution trends and global perspective

Biblical and theological perspective on persecution

  • A theological reflection on persecution
  • A call to suffering and joy
  • Biblical responses to persecution

Know your rights: legal and practical preparation for persecution

  • Preventative measures for those at risk
  • Digital security: an overview
  • Legal representation
  • Know your rights about summons, search warrants, arrests, and indictments
  • How to cope with detention?
  • Interrogation: Its objectives & methods, and your rights
  • How to identify and report torture?
  • Solitary confinement and forced confessions
  • How to deal with negative impacts of imprisonment?

Caring for the persecuted

  • How to help the persecuted?
  • Advocacy (monitoring, documenting, campaigning)
  • How to use media wisely and effectively?
  • Some principles of pastoral care for the traumatised victims of persecution

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you'll be able to…
  • Understand complex and diverse factors contributing to persecution in contemporary Iran
  • Have a deeper understanding of biblical teaching about suffering and a balanced approach to accepting and responding to it
  • Identify challenges faced while ministering in persecution settings
  • Show greater sensitivity towards those who suffer under persecution
  • Demonstrate a deeper conviction to help those who suffer
  • Develop ministry tools and strategies to help the persecuted Christians
  • Conduct advocacy on behalf of other persecuted believers in a sensitive and effective way


Who is the course for?

The course is for Iranian Christians with a basic knowledge of Christian faith and biblical principles. It can be helpful to anyone interested in gaining a better understanding of their rights to freedom of religion, protecting Christian community in Iran and protecting them from the negative impacts of persecution. Fluency in written and spoken Farsi/Persian is essential.


What do people say about this course?

During the course, I realised how much I needed to take this course. My level of understanding and awareness about religious persecution considerably increased, and my whole perspective changed. I decided to act with more vigilance from now on, and with the help of God do everything that I can to help persecuted believers. I am now determined to continue my Christian ministry thoughtfully and not to put others at risk through carelessness.


I never had an interest in hearing about persecution, because I was afraid of confronting the reality of it. But as the lessons went on I became more interested to hear the contents. I also decided to serve God with wisdom and take things more seriously and change my ways. By the end of the course, I realised how crucial it was for me to take this course.


These lessons turned my world upside down! Fear of persecution left me and I felt more encouraged in the Lord. Many of my questions were answered. The teaching was so vivid and clear that during some lessons I could even imagine myself in the interrogation room.


Throughout the lessons, the fear of persecution in me was diminished and I found myself more prepared to confront persecution. I also want to reevaluate my past activities and, by thoughtful practice, avoid repeating the mistakes of the past. I also submit my thoughts and will to the Lord. I had already felt a lot of fear in the face of the persecution (and particularly being arrested for my faith). Many times in prayer I had asked God not to put me in such a situation because I felt that I, like Peter, would deny him. But these lessons changed my feelings.


Previously, I thought that if I was arrested, I could not say anything in my defence and there was no law to defend me. I now have learned that, in addition to the guidance and strength of the Holy Spirit, I have to raise my awareness of the legal rights I have to defend myself and more importantly others. The more we delved in the practical stages of the lessons, I felt more emboldened as I realised there are ways to help us and those around us suffer less during the time of persecution.


I always thought that only Christians in Iran were severely oppressed, but with the statistics given in this lesson about other countries, my thinking changed a lot.


The proper response to persecution is the result of better awareness of biblical teaching and legal rights. For me, one of the beauties of these lessons was the fact that practical subjects were based on clear biblical teaching and examples from the Word of God.


I previously thought about what my response should be if I was arrested for my faith. Sometimes I asked this question in church, but I was always deterred by others from asking so. “God forbid!” they would say. “Do not even mention it!" But today I face the fact that persecution in the lives of Christians is an inevitable fact. I decided to follow the security measures from now on, especially in my digital communications and telephone conversations. Also, if I am arrested, I will keep my calm with the power of God and the preparation I have already done.


During the course I had a lot of stress, but now that I assess my feelings, I feel I have found more courage to deal with persecution. I think this was the best thing I needed to hear. I decided to share this with my Christian friends when I return to Iran. I also take security issues more seriously. I plan to have a new strategy to face up to the conditions of arrest and detention, and knowing these lessons will help me to get the right response.


I am sure communicating the lessons learned in this course with, family and friends, will definitely help reduce our anxieties and equip us for proper responses during times of persecution. I now also better understand the situation of persecuted Christians, and have decided to do whatever I can to the help them and their families.


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Frequently Asked Questions

How do I enrol on this short course? When can I start?

The course will soon be available in our Persian website. A link will be provided here. This online course is self run. When made available online, you can join anytime and complete it in your own pace.

Meanwhile, Article18 continues to run face-to-face training for the churches and house-church networks that request it.

How much will it cost?

This course is made available to you free of charge. You may wish to donate to the work of Article18 to help develop similar resources. To make a donation, contact us or click here.

What qualifications do I need?

No qualification is needed, though it is important to have a basic knowledge of the Christian faith and biblical principles. A working knowledge of computers is also essential as you need to access course materials online.

Moderate computer literacy is required as this short course is aimed to introduce its participants to cyber security principles as well.

Is there a minimum age requirement for studying this course?

Participants in this course need to be 18 years and over.

I am not a native Farsi/Persian speaker. How essential is Farsi/Persian language skill?

The course is entirely taught in Farsi and resources are either written or translated into Farsi. Therefore, fluency in written and spoken Farsi is essential.

How much time is needed to finish the course?

Approximately 15 hours is needed to watch 12 video lectures, answer short quiz questions and write personal reflections on each session. This is excluding the time each participant needs to study the course material.

Is there any homework, exam, or other formal assessment?

Keep a journal throughout the course. After every subject write your reflections on the most important things you’ve learned, the questions, doubts, negative feelings you have been dealing with, and decisions you have made.

Are we given the resources needed?

Availability of resources depends on copyright permission. Some of the resources are made available in PDF format if they are either open source or Article18 has obtained permission for their digital use. Course participants are expected to acquire other recommended resources for themselves.

Will I get a formal qualification for this the course?

This course is taught in a simple and accessible way so that all those who participate, regardless of their level of education, will be able to benefit from it. A more academic and comprehensive format of this course is taught to students in Christian seminaries, which contributes to a formal qualification towards a degree in their theological studies. The current course is an abridged version aimed to help church leaders, as well ordinary Christians, to prepare for persecution.

Is this course offered only online?

This course is offered in face-to-face seminar format as well as online as a self-taught course. Article18 makes this course available to Christian ministers, house-church network leaders and staff and volunteers in Christian organisation through training seminars. To receive details and book our trainers for your seminar, please email us separately.

Selected Bibliography

Here is a list of recommended resources in English in addition to those introduced or made available in Persian:


  • Ronald Boyd-MacMillan, Faith That Endures: The Essential Guide to the Persecuted Church, Grand Rapids, MI: Fleming H. Revell, 2006.
  • Glenn M. Penner, In the Shadow of the Cross: A Biblical Theology of Persecution and Discipleship, Bartlesville, OK: Living Sacrifice, 2004.
  • Abrahamian, Ervand, Tortured Confessions: Prisons and Public Recantations in Modern Iran, Berkeley: University of California, 1999.
  • Cunningham, Scott, Through Many Tribulations: The Theology of Persecution in Luke- Acts, Sheffield, England: Sheffield Academic, 1997.
  • Dehqani-Tafti, Hassan B., The Hard Awakening, New York, NY: Seabury, 1981.
  • Estabrooks, Paul and Cunningham, Jim, Standing Strong Through the Storm: Victorious Living for Christians Facing Pressure and Persecution, Santa Ana, CA: Open Doors International, (2004)
  • Fernando, Ajith, The Call to Joy and Pain: Embracing Suffering in Your Ministry, Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2007.
  • Hefley, James C., and Marti Hefley, By Their Blood: Christian Martyrs of the 20th Century, Milford, MI: Mott Media, 1979.
  • Johnson, Thomas K., Human Rights: A Christian Primer, Bonn: Verlag Für Kultur Und Wissenschaft, Thomas Schirrmacher, 2008.
  • Langberg, Diane, Suffering and the Heart of God: How Trauma Destroys and Christ Restores, Greensboro, NC: New Growth, 2015.
  • Newlands, George, Christ and Human Rights: The Transformative Engagement, Aldershot, England: Ashgate, 2006.
  • Rostampour, Maryam, Amirizadeh, Marziyeh, & Perry, John, Captive in Iran: A Remarkable True Story of Hope and Triumph amid the Horror of Tehran's Brutal Evin Prison, Atlanta: Tyndale Momentum: 2013.
  • Rothschild, Babette, and Marjorie L. Rand, Help for the Helper: The Psychophysiology of Compassion Fatigue and Vicarious Trauma, New York: W.W. Norton, 2006.
  • Sauer, Christof (ed.) Bad Urach Statement: Towards an Evangelical Theology of Suffering, Persecution and Martyrdom for the Global Church in Mission, Bonn: Verlag Für Kultur Und Wissenschaft, Thomas Schirrmacher, 2012.
  • Sauer, Christof & Howell, Richard (Eds) (2010) Suffering, Persecution and Martyrdom; Theological Reflections, Johannesburg: AcadSa;
  • Schirrmacher, Thomas, MacClary, Richard, & Johnson, Thomas K., Human Rights: Promise and Reality, Bonn: Verlag Für Kultur Und Wissenschaft, Culture and Science Publ, 2015
  • Schlossberg, Herbert, A Fragrance of Oppression: The Church and Its Persecutors, Wheaton, IL: Crossways, 1991.
  • Stott, John, Issues Facing Christians Today: a Major Appraisal of Contemporary Social and Moral Issues, Hants, 1984.
  • Thames, H. Knox, Seiple, Chris, & Rowe, Amy, International Religious Freedom Advocacy: A Guide to Organizations, Law, and NGOs, Waco, TX: Baylor UP, 2009
  • Tieszen, Charles L., Re-examining Religious Persecution: Constructing a Theological Framework for Understanding Persecution, Kempton Park, South Africa: AcadSA, 2008.
  • Ton, Josef, “Suffering and Martyrdom: A defining and essential Christian characteristic”, in Christof Sauer, & Richard Howell (Eds): Suffering, Persecution and Martyrdom: Theological Reflections, Johannesburg: AcadSa, 2010
  • Volf, Miroslav, The End of Memory: Remembering Rightly in a Violent World, Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans Publications, 2006.
  • Wright, Norman H. Crisis Counseling: Helping People in Crisis and Stress, San Bernardino, CA: Here's Life, 1985.


  • All Party Parliamentary Group on International Religious Freedom, Article18: An Orphaned Right, 2013.
  • Meral, Ziya, No Place to Call Home: Experiences of Apostates from Islam and Failures of the International Community, Christian Solidarity Worldwide, 2008.
  • Stefanus Alliance International, "Freedom of religion or belief for everyone", Oslo, 2012. retrieved January, 2013


  • Stewart, Jon, “Rosewater” (film), 2014.
  • Hovsepian, Joseph & Andreh , “A Cry from Iran” (documentary), 2007