Several hundred Christians in Iran are suffering under a new wave of persecution by the government as people are being arrested for converting to Christianity. As the latest report states:
The crackdown has led to 285 believers in 35 cities being arrested in Iran in the past six months, according to Elam Ministries, an organization that serves Christians in that country.
Many of those Christians have spent weeks and even months in prison, often serving long stretches in solitary confinement. They also have endured interrogations and psychological abuse.
… “Most often the Revolutionary Guards arrest and don’t even tell their family. They can’t have a lawyer, not even a formal charge. Sometimes they get killed without even a formal charge,” he explained.”
The Supreme Leader in Iran issued a warning about the growth of Christianity in Iran as house churches have been springing up all over the country. As a result, warnings have been issued in newspapers and other outlets threatening punishment for any people who convert to Christianity. This has not stopped the spread of Christianity, as the Supreme Leader acknowledged in his address.
Christian Pastor has Death Sentence Overturned
At the same time of this persecution, a Christian Pastor in Iran has seen his death sentence for “apostasy” suspended:
Iran’s Supreme Court overturned the death sentence of Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani of the northern city of Rasht, attorney Mohammad Ali Dadkhah told Agence France-Presse. Just days earlier, human rights groups had reported that the Supreme Court had found Nadarkhani guilty of apostasy and upheld the death penalty ruling by a lower court.
Nadarkhani, who was arrested in October 2009, converted from Islam to Christianity in his late teens. The now 32-year-old evangelical house church pastor was first arrested for protesting against Christian children being forced to participate in Muslim religious education in school. Then last year he was sentenced to death for apostasy.
The Supreme Court agreed to remove the death sentence and have the case returned to a lower court with a request that Pastor Nadarkhani “repent” and renounce his faith in Christianity. This case is symbolic of the current crackdown in the country and a warning to those who dare even believe in the Christian faith. The Pastor’s lawyer is also facing a 9 year prison sentence and has been barred from practicing law for the next decade.
With all the media-generated excitement about the “Arab Spring” and the movement for human rights in Middle Eastern nations, not much is being stated about the plight of Christians. The suffering of brothers and sisters in the faith is growing but the Word of God is still spreading to those in the most restricted nations. Pray for these Christians, new believers and for the unsaved who have yet to hear the Gospel. And pray to The Lord for the enemies of the faith, who are persecuting believers all over the world: both that their “crackdowns” fail and that they can understand and get to know the love of Jesus Christ.
If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.
If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.
Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.
But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me. (John 15:18-21).