An Iranian Christian’s Prayer

One aspect of my years in ministry was a period when I was engaged in working with the suffering Church. The nature of that suffering was anything from social and economic exclusion through to imprisonment and martyrdom. Perhaps, given the horrifying recent events across the Middle East, and more especially in Syria and northern Iraq, we can empathise with huge numbers of our Christian family, whose roots reach back into the soil of the New Testament age, being destroyed through brutal persecution.

I have had the privilege of meeting and worshipping alongside such oppressed communities, and never was active faith more alive than when among those for whom their very safety hung by a thread. I, of course, enjoyed the privilege of a UK passport and so was only visiting.

I recently received from a Premier listener a wonderful prayer written by an Iranian Christian who endured solitary confinement for 351 days on account of his Christian faith. In that space he crafted this, his solitary prayer:

My wilderness is painful but lovely, some parts of my wilderness are covered with thorns and hurt my feet, but I love it and that’s why I call it Lovely Pain.

My wilderness is so hot my tears disappear before falling onto the ground, but it is cool under your shadows.

My wilderness is like an endless road but short compared to eternity.

My wilderness is dry but an oasis with the Holy Spirit’s rain.

My wilderness seems to be a lonely trip, but I am not alone, for my Beloved is with me; not only him but my faithful brothers and sisters too. I carry them all in my heart.

My wilderness is dangerous but safe because I dwell between his shoulders.

So I love my wilderness because it takes me to a deeper part of you, Lord, and no one can separate me from your arms forever.

(Dr Micha Jazz)

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With many peaceful blessings

Geoffrey

Pastor Stands Trial – Jailer Saved

Pastor Victor Bet-Tamraz is expected to stand trial soon, five months after his arrest by security forces for ‘participating in an illegal gathering’ as he celebrated Christmas.

He has been released on bail, but has had difficulty in finding a lawyer willing to act as his defence counsel; some lawyers have experienced a backlash after representing Christians in court.

It is believed that 92 Christians were imprisoned in Iran at the start of the year – but God is using these Christian prisoners to bring the gospel to their captors. When Noushin*, a house church leader, was arrested, she had the boldness to speak about Jesus to her interrogator – and he and his wife gave their lives to the Lord.

*name changed for security reasons
PLEASE PRAY: –
• For Pastor Victor Bet-Tamraz to find a good lawyer and receive a fair trial
• For God’s presence to give peace and courage to the Christians who remain imprisoned, often in horrific conditions
• For God to use these prisoners to lead many of their captors to Christ, just as Paul and Silas led their jailer and his whole household to Jesus as recorded in the book of Acts.

18 JAILED IN TWO MONTHS

Another 18 Iranian converts to Christianity have been jailed during the past two months for ‘evangelism and establishing house churches’, reports Mohabat News. Between them, their sentences amount to 23 years and nine months in jail. Some of the converts intend to appeal to a higher court.

Lisa Pearce
CEO Open Doors UK and Ireland

For more information about Open Doors please visit:-

http://www.opendoorsuk.org

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With many peaceful blessings

Geoffrey

Iran Sentences 18 Christians to Prison for their Faith

It is being reported by the Christian Post that Iran’s revolutionary court is believed to have sentenced 18 Christian converts to prison for their faith in a new crackdown on Christianity in the Islamic Republic, a report said.

Fox News noted that the charges include evangelism, propaganda against the regime, and creating house churches to practice their faith. It added that the total sentences come close to 24 years, but it’s not known how many years each individual received, due to the lack of transparency in Iran’s judicial system.

“The cruelty of Iran’s dictatorial leaders knows no limits,” said Saba Farzan, the German-Iranian executive director of Foreign Policy Circle, a strategy think tank in Berlin.

A number of the imprisoned Christians were arrested in 2013, and sentenced in accordance with Article 500 of the Islamic Penal Code, which penalizes threats to Iran’s clerical leaders.

Morad Mokhtari, an Iranian convert to Christianity who fled the Islamic Republic in 2006, added: “Iranian religious authorities prefer that they [converts to Christianity] leave Iran because the authorities can’t control them,” Mokhatari said. “Just their name is evangelism. Imagine someone says he’s a Christian and has a Muslim name.”

Christians in Iran make up a tiny minority of the 78 million-strong population, and often face persecution from the government. Watchdog group Open Doors lists the country at No. 7 on its World Watch List of nations where Christians are most heavily targeted for their faith.

Open Doors points out on its website that almost all Christian activity in Iran is considered illegal, “especially when it occurs in Persian languages — from evangelism to Bible training, to publishing Scripture and Christian books or preaching in Farsi.”

It added: “In 2014, at least 75 Christians were arrested. More Christians were sentenced to prison and pressure on those detained increased, including physical and mental abuse.”

Iran’s human rights record has faced great scrutiny, especially in light of a historic nuclear deal it reached earlier this year with the U.S. and other Western nations, which promises to lift international sanctions on Iran in exchange for restricting its nuclear program.

The American Center for Law and Justice and other groups have said that the deal should not be finalized until Iran shows clear signs it is willing to improve its treatment of Christians — and release the American Christians it currently holds in its prisons, including pastor Saeed Abedini.

U.S. Senator Mark Kirt, R-Ill., has added in a statement: “The Iranian regime’s systematic persecution of Christians, as well as Baha’is, Sunni Muslims, dissenting Shiite Muslims, and other religious minorities, is getting worse not better,” Kirt said.

“This is a direct consequence of President Obama’s decision to de-link demands for improvements in religious freedom and human rights in Iran from the nuclear negotiations.”

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With many peaceful blessings

Geoffrey