Christianity is seen as a Western influence and a threat in Iran
Iranian authorities have made 12 arrests after infiltrating a secret meeting of 30 believers. Please pray for and with our Iranian brothers and sisters.
It is believed an informant gained the Christians’ trust, infiltrated their network and accompanied Iranian security in order to identify particular individuals and raid a meeting in a private home.
At the home of a Christian convert in Tehran, where about 30 Christians had gathered, 10 security agents raided the meeting. Whilst filming the raid, the security agents were initially respectful but, once the cameras were switched off, the mood abruptly changed and they reportedly became abusive.
Elderly sisters arrested
The Christians were taken to a nearby parking area where a list of names was read out: Joseph Shahbazian, an Armenian-Iranian Christian, Christian converts Reza, Salar, Sonya, and elderly sisters, Mina and Maryam. Those present from that list were handcuffed, blindfolded and taken away. The security agents also confiscated the mobile phones of all others present and made them provide contact details. They then went to the houses of those on the list from Tehran and Karaj, searching for Bibles, other Christian literature and electronic communication devices. Three more converts (Arash and two men called Farhad), also on the list but not present at the gathering, were arrested at their homes, which were searched.
“According to the reports of witnesses,” says a report by Article Eighteen, ‘Some of the Christians were beaten, as well as some of their non-Christian family members.”
In a related security action, also on 30 June, agents called three Christian converts (Sohrab, Ebrahim and Yasser) in Malayer, Hamedan Province, and summoned them to the Revolutionary Guard intelligence office for questioning the next day. However, all three were arrested before they could turn themselves in. They were detained, then released on bail of 30 million tomans each (around PHP 67,000) on 2 July.
Occasionally, there is hope. Three Iranian Christians, who were serving 10-year sentences, have recently had their prison time reduced after an appeal.
Christianity is seen as a Western influence and a threat in Iran, which is number 9 on the Open Doors World Watch List 2020. Mojtaba (above), an Iranian Christian, says: “During the last 40 years, under the authority of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Christians have been forbidden to practice their faith. They’ve been forced to have their fellowship secretly, constantly being watched, and their phones tapped. They’re facing violence, discrimination and persecution. More than 10 church leaders have been murdered. Hundreds of ordinary people have experienced solitary confinement and prison. I was arrested twice. My house was raided, I was separated from my family, spent over 60 days in solitary confinement, experienced harsh interrogations, was imprisoned for over three years, and was forced to leave my country and become a refugee.
“However, in the midst of this darkness, there is a beautiful message from ordinary people who have been oppressed, broken, and made hopeless by the situation, but found their true freedom, salvation, joy and identity in the resurrected Jesus, who is alive today. These people choose to not be selfish or silent but instead share this message with others and accept all the consequences. I, myself, as a converted Christian, during my detention, I had this great testimony in my heart that the pain and suffering I have, today in prison, is not at all comparable with the pain of being without God. The sweetness of Jesus’ salvation will always overcome the bitterness of persecution.”
As a result, the church is growing – and is sharing Christ’s love during this Covid-19 crisis.
Open Doors is supporting the church in Iran through partners to share God’s love practically through emergency aid, also providing advocacy for those in prison, trauma training, and the distribution of Christian literature online.
PHP 1250 could provide a Bible to a believer facing extreme persecution
-That God will strengthen and encourage those who were arrested and that they will soon be released
-That the authorities will not pursue those discovered – and confiscated possessions will be returned
-For the authorities to respect the right to freedom and belief of Iranian citizens.