An Iranian Christian will spend the next 10 years behind bars – and you won’t believe the reason why.
He’s not a criminal or a crook. He didn’t harm anyone or level threats against his leaders.
But according to the government, he’s a danger to Islam and “national security” – so they raided his home church and did the unthinkable.
60-year-old Anooshavan Avedian was a former Muslim – but he came to know the truth of the Gospel and left Islam to follow Jesus.
Avedian then began hosting church in his home – private gatherings – on his property.
Together, a group of about 20 Christians would gather to study God’s Word and worship His holy name.
He taught other believers God’s Word – and the group gathered in his home frequently.
But once Iranian authorities learned of the home church – they wanted it shut down – calling it a threat to Islam.
They raided the home and confiscated all the Bibles.
But they didn’t stop there.
During the raid, authorities also made the Christians write out the passwords to their personal accounts so they could investigate them further.
While in jail– the Christians were psychologically tortured – even held in solitary confinement.
They ended up being let go with an extraordinary high bail – but when brought back for sentencing, they were found guilty.
Article 18 reported:
“The three Christians had been summoned to face charges of “propaganda activity against the system” and “acting against the country’s security through organisation and leadership of an Evangelical Christian house-church”.
In his sentencing, Judge Afshari found Anooshavan guilty of “establishing and leading an illegal group with the aim of disrupting the security of the country through educational and propaganda activities contrary to and disturbing to the holy religion of Islam, through the dissemination of false claims … as well as contact with foreign countries, or organisational guidance from abroad.”
Here in the United States, we often take for granted the freedom we have to worship – both in private and public.
But all around the world, Christians continue to be persecuted for their faith.
And in Iran, the persecution against Christians is so severe, they’re listed on the World Watch List’s top 10 most dangerous countries for Christians.
“The government sees the growth of the church in Iran as an attempt by Western countries to undermine Islam and the Islamic regime of Iran. House groups made up of converts from Muslim backgrounds are often raided, and both their leaders and members have been arrested, prosecuted and given long prison sentences for “crimes against national security,” reported Open Doors.
But despite the risk of persecution – Christians in Iran continue to meet underground to preach the name of Jesus.
What an example they are for all of us – unwavering in their faith – when it counts most.
Let us continue to keep our Christian brothers and sisters in Iran in our prayers, and especially those who are currently being persecuted by authorities for their faith.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” – John 3:16-17
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