Nine Christians in Iran have been convicted of attending church services at someone’s home.
Open Doors USA reports police have raided a church in the country, where it is illegal to convert to another religion from Islam. It is also illegal to participate in a home church.
Between January 31 and February 23, nine men were arrested and convicted of participating in a home church service and have been sentenced to five years in prison.
Pastor Matthias Haghnejad was arrested February 10 at a house gathering in Rasht where he was working in ministry. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard confiscated phones and Bibles during the raid.
Seven of the nine accused were released in March on bail equating to $12,500 US. Haghnejad and Eslamdous, however, were detained.
At a preliminary hearing on July 24, all nine Christians faced charges of “acting against national security” and “promoting Zionism.” Five of the defendants were transferred to Evin Prison after the lawyer representing them was rejected by Judge Mohammed Moghiseh and a court-appointed alternate was rejected by the defendants themselves.
A few days later, the four remaining Christians appeared in court under the same charges.
On October 13, each of the men was sentenced to five years in prison under the charge of “acting against national security.”
Open Doors USA says this charge is one that is often used by the state “to prosecute Christians for their house church activities.”
The organization also reports the sentences are in the process of being appealed at this time. They ask that Christians around the world keep these men in their prayers.
“Pray that the Lord will encourage these nine men and their families, strengthening their faith in this difficult situation,” says Open Doors USA. “Pray that the appeals will be successful and the unjust sentences overturned.”
Finally, the organization requests prayer to further the cause of Christians in the country: “Pray that belief in Jesus Christ and following Him won’t be perceived as “acting against national security” by the Iranian authorities and that Iranian citizens will no longer be persecuted for holding to different religious beliefs.”
According to the World Watch List compiled by Open Doors USA, Iran is ranked as the ninth-worst country for faith-based persecution, particularly due to Islamic oppression.
Source » chvnradio