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Review: Too Many to Jail by Mark Bradley


too many to jail

Despite intense opposition and persecution, more and more Iranian Muslims are turning to Christ all the time.  Some say Iran has the fastest growing church in the world.  In fact, one pastor’s wife was told during interrogation, “If we arrested people for religious reasons, there would be no room in the prisons.”

Mark Bradley’s book, Too Many to Jail:  The Story of Iran’s New Christians, analyses this phenomenon by explaining why many Iranians are disillusioned by Islam; why, in an earthly sense, they are turning to Jesus Christ; how representative house congregations function; and the effect of persecution.  Bradley, a researcher, references his facts meticulously with over 400 footnotes; he goes out of his way to show that this book is not merely Christian hype but represents reality.

On the other hand, this book is not a dry list of facts but a moving story of a nation that has been so disillusioned by its evil leaders that many are, by God’s grace, turning to the Good Shepherd.  Bradley points out that analysing political and cultural events to explain this phenomenon does not deny God’s divine work, but shows how he has been working.

Since the Iranian revolution in 1979, political leaders have identified their rule with Islam itself.  Then, when disaster, corruption, and violence became obvious, the stage was set for people to question Islam as well as their political leaders.

Because of Iran’s long and noble history, Iranians see themselves as a great nation of many backgrounds, not merely as a Muslim nation.  Also, via the Koran and the very popular poets of centuries ago, they honor Jesus as a gentle, compassionate, and humble prophet.  This is, in today’s Iran, a stark contrast with the corrupt and violent political leaders who identify themselves directly with Islam. This and other factors may have some bearing on the fact that many of the people approached by evangelists are interested in learning more about Jesus.

Carefully, with great sensitivity to security, Bradley tells the stories of five different house congregation networks and discusses their similarities and differences.  He explains the nature of ‘house churches’ in relation to ‘building churches’ and explains the many significant reasons why the former are so well suited to the Iranian situation and how government policy fuels their growth.

He also discusses persecution in detail and shows how it has increased the growth of Christianity in Iran.  This was a difficult chapter to read.

How should we see all this?  Mark Bradley writes:

“Iran’s suffering but growing church.” 

“The beauty of God’s sovereignty is in the “but”.  Just as Joseph turned to his brothers and said, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good  to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives”  (Gen 50:20), so too Iranian Christians turn to their tormentors and know in their hearts that what they intend for evil, God is working out for good.”

So, what support is there for the Iranian church?  International help in the form of TV, websites, chat rooms, and even skype help equip both leaders and ordinary Christians.  Bibles and Christian books are smuggled in.  And people pray.

Let us all be among those praying for our new Iranian brothers and sisters who live in such dangerous circumstances.  Reading this book will help inform your prayers.

Note:  Because this book details some of the persecutions of Iranian Christians and the brutality of government opposition, it is only suitable for older teens and adults.  I had had enough by the time I finished the main text of the book and did not go on to read the 43 page appendix, ‘List of Aggressive Acts Towards Christians in Iran.’

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This is yet another book in the in the 2015 52 Books in 52 Weeks Challenge and is also linked to Saturday Reviews, Booknificent Thursdays, Literacy Musings Monday, and The Book Nook.  For more encouragement, visit Raising Homemakers, Titus 2 Tuesday, Works for Me Wednesday, Mom to Mom Monday, Monday’s Musings, Missional WeekendR&R Wednesdays, From House to Home, Homemaking Mondays, Good Morning Mondays, Make Your Home Sing Mondays, Faith Filled Fridays

DisclosureI received a copy of this book from Kregel publications for the purpose of this review.  All my opinions are my own, and I am not compensated for sharing them.


  1. Laraba says:

    Sounds like a good book, but too intense for me. Thanks for the review, and what a glorious witness to God’s goodness that He is rising up His church in a Muslim stronghold.

  2. Wow! This sounds like a really powerful book that I definitely want to read! Thanks for sharing this at Booknificent Thursday!

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