Revelation 12:11-12 “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. Therefore rejoice ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! For the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has but a short time.”
Government officials in Iran are demanding that Christian church leaders turn over to them the names and National ID numbers of their congregations and have been threatening Christian converts. Leaders of the Assembly of God church in Tehran, under coercion, were instructed to provide personal information on new members to Iran Security Officials.
Being known as a new convert to Christianity by the authorities can be dangerous as well as detrimental in finding work as a non-Muslim. Assemblies of God churches have been under government surveillance for years in Iran and its members are threatened even with imprisonment. The church has refused to comply.
In 2009, the Ministry of Intelligence banned the church from holding services in Farsi (the national language). Since then, this prohibition has also been imposed on other congregations in Tehran. This kind of continued harassment has forced Christians to go under-ground in Iran. There are now a growing number of home churches that the government has been unable to harass on a regular basis.
Youcef Nadarkhani, a Christian pastor, was jailed and sentenced to death in Iran last year for apostasy. A letter has just surfaced from Youcef saying he wanted to thank those praying for him and to inform his beloved brothers and sisters that he was in good health in the flesh and spirit, despite the difficulties in prison. “This is the day of exam and trial of my faith. These days are hard, but to prove my loyalty and sincerity to God, I am trying to do the best in my power to stay right with what I have learned from God’s commandments,” he wrote. He continues to face the death penalty for abandoning Islam and converting to Christianity.
Jailed Iranian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani’s attorney has now been convicted of acting against Iranian national security, spreading propaganda and keeping banned books at home. His expected imprisonment will be in one of Iran’s worst prisons. “This is also bad news for Pastor Nadarkhani’s case,” stressed a church official. “Without Youcef’s lawyer, it will be even more difficult to prevent his execution.”
There are reports that a Prominent Iranian house church pastor, Behnam Irani, is still being beaten in his prison cell, but less frequently, an official assisting him with advocacy announced on May 14, just weeks after his family expressed concerns he may die. “He has asked to visit a doctor and they have denied his requests.” Pastor Behnam Irani is in his 40s and is married with two children. He has been held on charges of “crimes against the Islamic state,” apparently linked to his involvement in the unauthorized house church. His family says that he “remains strong and joyful in the faith,” and asks that you “Please pray for his healing and deliverance from the bleeding.”
Indeed, it is time to pray for the true international church, the body of Christ Jesus.