Story Advocacy | 04 December 2022
Sharing your birthday with Jesus: How an Iranian family celebrates Christmas in secret with their home church


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It’s almost Christmas!

You might have decorated the outside of your house with Christmas ornaments, your child may have a Christmas celebration at their school and the topic of Christmas might be the subject most talked about among neighbors and friends. For the families of Iran’s house churches, all of this is not possible. They must celebrate Jesus’ birthday in secret. An Iranian mother shares how they make Christmas a memory despite all the dangers. Elahe: “Our children don’t even talk to their closest friends about the Christmas celebration we have at home. Christmas is the time of year that we are monitored by the intelligence agents most. Many Christians are arrested for celebrating Christmas, so we must be careful. “The terror that the intelligence agents have created by arresting Christians in Iran has never prevented us from celebrating the birth of our Lord Jesus with our children. Because this is one of our most important celebrations in Christianity, we want to express our joy to God and other Christians by keeping the celebration a tradition in our church.


Small groups and soft voices

“We don’t celebrate Christmas on the 25th of December like most other Christians. This would be too dangerous. But this doesn’t make the celebration we have on another day less joyful. For instance, my daughter’s birthday is in January, and we often celebrate her birthday and Christmas together to avoid suspicion.

“We would love to celebrate Christmas with the whole church but, for security reasons, we celebrate in smaller groups. We think of a cover story (like celebrating my daughter’s birthday) and sing our songs with soft voices. “

Our children have a task too during these celebrations, they sing and dance or perform a nativity play for us. Apart from the service we also eat together and have fun. We even have gifts, for both the adults and the children. In my church there is no money for big gifts like toys for the children. We use our creativity. For instance, we give each other a card with a Bible text.

Limitations and chances

“We might celebrate Christmas under the best circumstances, but we have accepted the conditions prevailing in Iran and we are happy with our small celebrations in security and peace. At least we’ve been together, albeit in small numbers. We have a motto in our church: 'Limitations bring out creativity'. We try to celebrate our Lord Jesus with little resources. “

In the home church we have limited resources, but sharing is also part of our Christmas tradition. This year, Iran's economic situation is very bad. For this reason, we have prepared food packages with items such as rice and oil for families who are in financial difficulties. We also give food packages along with Christmas cards or the Bible to those in need and the homeless.

“It is true that our Christmas gifts are inexpensive, but it is important that just as we received the greatest gift of God to save mankind, we should also have a giving heart, love and serve, and make others happy.”

Top photo: representative image used
a prayer for iran

Dear Father, we are astonished that despite the extreme persecution facing our family in Iran, the church continues to see strong growth. May Christians continue to grow in number and maturity. Please help believers who are suffering for You to stand strong in Your love and power—and may this love and power extend to those who oppose them. Protect Christians from harm and keep prying eyes from house churches. May these gatherings be places where believers are powerfully transformed into Your likeness and equipped for everyday service to You.

give today

Today, if you are able, will you give hope to persecuted children this Christmas? 

Every PHP 2,950 provides a month’s education to two children impacted by persecution.

Every PHP 3,950 supports a child at the Colombia Children’s Centre, giving safety, education and a future.

Every PHP 5,370 gives Bibles to ten children, so they can know Jesus through Scripture.