Monday, 13 January 2020

Persecution follows suit as the church in Iran multiplies

As the church in Iran multiplies, persecution follows suit. Over the last few months, Open Doors has learned about arrests of numerous Christians in Iran.

The crackdown on house churches continues to intensify, as officials search for and arrest anyone involved in these typically tiny fellowships. Prison sentences of varying lengths are inevitable outcomes for anyone who defies Iran’s “no house church” law.
Open Doors has reported numerous atrocities against Christians in Iranian prisons, infamous for their treatment of political prisoners.

In 2019, at least 37 Christians have been arrested: eight in Bushehr, nine in Rasht, 12 in Amol, two in Ahvaz, and one each in Hamedan, Shiraz and Isfahan.

On July 1, in the southwestern city of Bushehr, eight Christian converts, mostly in their 30s, were arrested, including five members of one family. Seven are still in prison, most likely in solitary confinement. Their homes were raided and Bibles confiscated, as well as Christian literature, wooden crosses and pictures with Christian symbols. Authorities also took laptops, phones, identity cards and bank cards. The officers are reported to have treated the Christians harshly, even though small children were present during the arrests.

Also in Bushehr, in April, 16 other converts from Bushehr reportedly lost their appeals against prison sentences for “propaganda activities against the regime through the formation of house churches.”
Another five converts submitted themselves to the central detention center in Karaj in July 2019 to begin their jail sentences for “propaganda against the state.” Manoto News broadcast footage of the Christians, four of whom have young children, waving goodbye to their loved ones.
After their arrests, the five were released in early 2018 after each posted a bail of 30 million tomans(around $7,000).
In March 2019, Milad, Yaghoob, Shahebedin and Alireza were sentenced to four months in prison. Amin, who has already spent a year in prison for his religious activities, was given 14 months. Their appeals were rejected last month.

Pray with us by name for all of these believers, recognizing that they represent only a handful of thousands of our brothers and sisters in Iran who have been threatened, arrested or imprisoned for turning to Jesus and following Him.

Your part in this expanding story

Writing in a time of great persecution for Christ followers who had lost property, been thrown into prison, were ostracized from their Jewish community, etc., the author of Hebrews offers a clear call to prayer for those who are suffering for the gospel:
“Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering” (Heb. 13:3).
And in Matthew 25:34-36, Jesus is clear that when we enter into the suffering of others, we are answering His call:
“Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.”
Jesus is strategically building His church and exhorts us to stand with and encourage our brothers and sisters as they live out the gospel.

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