History: 6th Century BC - Iranians under Achaemenid rule begin colonizing non-Persian areas of the empire.
4th Century BC - Alexander the Great conquers Persia and Iranians outside of Persia find themselves cut off from their home.
7th Century AD - Arabs, who quickly transform the country into an Islamic state, raid Iran.
1970’s - Claiming religious persecution, the Bahai begin leaving the country.
1980’s - Following the 1979 revolution, Iranians leave in large numbers, fleeing the strict rule of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
2003- Iran is declared to have the highest rate of “brain drain” (the exodus of young, well educated men and women). Over 150,000 educated Iranians leave Iran every year.
Languages: Iranians who live outside of Iran quickly become fluent in their host language. These languages include English, German, Dutch, French and Arabic.
Population: There are millions of Iranians who live outside of Iran. There are no fewer than 100,000 in Turkey alone. In recent years, Canada has accepted the highest numbers of Iranian refugees.
Lifestyle: Once Iranians become legal residents of their host country, they generally assimilate into the local culture and society.
Life for refugees is difficult with long days of inactivity and feelings of being unwanted. Their sense of worth erodes as they come from a well-to-do life to a life of squalor and poverty. Refugees who have not been recognized as asylum seekers live under the stress of being caught by police and in turn being deported back to Iran. Undocumented refugees are forced to take menial jobs and work long hours for little pay. The children of these undocumented refugees often do not go to school and suffer from the lack of education.
Shortly after the beginning of the second Gulf War in May 2003, Iranian refugees in Iraq learned that they would be welcomed back to Iran. Between 600 and 700 Iranian refugees made the return trek to Iran. As it turned out, the refugees found themselves trapped in the middle of a minefield. They ended up unable to return home and unwelcome in Iraq. Many Iranian refugees find themselves in a spiritual no-man’s land.
Status of Christianity: Iranians worldwide are responding to the message of Christ. Once they become believers they often become involved in local churches. Some even begin ministering to other Iranian refugees. Some Iranian refugees have tried to use the Christian church as a means to securing asylum. A lot of Iranians have suffered at the hands of religious men, but have found acceptance and unconditional love in Christian communities.
One refugee left Iran bent on revenge on the men who tortured him and ruined his life. While outside of Iran, he became a believer when he had a vision of Jesus telling him that he could be forgiven when he would forgive his tormentors. Recently he was asked what he would do if he could return to Iran. “I would find those who tortured me and tell them about Jesus’ love.