The Islamic Republic of Iran is continuing their campaign of persecution against evangelical and non-denominational house churches. In particular, message believers are targeted as they feel their movement is isolated and thus easier to destroy.
Today the Revolutionary Court of Shiraz held trial for the following individuals for actions against the Islamic order:
1. Behrouz Sadegh-Khandjani
2. Mehdi Furutan
3. Mohammad Beliad
4. Parviz Khalaj
5. Nazly Beliad
They have been sentenced to one year in prison and have 20 days to appeal the sentencing. I ask that you pray for their safety and for wisdom to know the direction that God is leading them in their lives.
I want to give you a bigger picture of the situation for Christians in Iran. For each individual that becomes a Christian, there is the immediate understanding of the suffering that goes along with that decision. First, there is pressure from their Muslim family as their conversion causes the family shame. Secondly, there is the pressure that the government will find out about their conversion, arrest them, torture them, and put them in prison. Currently, the political situation in Iran forces them to either meet completely secretly in extremely small groups, or not to meet at all. Third, when you apply for a job you must disclose what religion you are a part of. If you are a Christian, you are typically not hired for the position. Therefore the financial situation of a Christian tends to be quite difficult.
This is what we call a “squeeze” on believers there from every direction: political, familial, and financial. The financial aspect is not only the result of the sanctions, but the government also cut the subsidies for gas and food so the price of both have increased significantly in the last few months. Also, believers that are a part of this movement in Iran are being called cult members and Branhamites by the denominational churches and news services there. These believers hold to the Bible as their absolute and do not accept creeds and dogmas as the final authority. Yes, they reject the non-biblical terminology used in trinitarian creeds and to some this means they are not Christians at all. The Bible teaches us that belief that Jesus is Lord and that God raised him from the dead gives us salvation (Romans 10:9). It teaches us in John 20:31 that belief that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, gives us life through His name. If we accept creeds before we accept the Bible, we are in dangerous territory. We must always examine what we believe and where we stand, and we cannot merely accept something that a denomination or church says, for we have one absolute and that is the Bible.