(Voice of the Persecuted) You are invited to join us on Thursday, May 12, 2022 in a prayer conference call for the persecuted church hosted by Persecution Watch.
IRAN: Population: 84.3 million, Christians 800,000
Iran Seeks Regional “Eliminationism” of Christians. Iran is an overlooked source of Christian persecution in the Middle East, according to a senior fellow with The Philos Project. In a recent presentation, Farhad Rezaei discussed the West’s view of Christian persecution that often silos the issue to jihadists, failing to account for Iran’s “strategy of eliminationism” in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Lebanon.
In an organized and strategic campaign, Iran seeks to shrink and suffocate the Christian minority communities in the Middle East through discrimination, imprisonment, abduction, and confiscation of property, to name a few. Domestically, Iran has made recent headlines for a “victory” in a case of nine Christians who were acquitted of their crimes of house church membership. However, several of the Christians from the group already face new charges and the vast majority of Iranian Christian converts have little hope for appeal. Intelligence officers at the notorious Evin Prison also recently violated the rights of imprisoned Iranian Christians by refusing to return the confiscated equipment to the interrogation branch.
Regionally, Iranian-backed factions in Iraq and Syria disrupt attempts for peace and restoration, pushing an anti-Christian agenda. Rezaei provided two rationales for Iran’s attempts to smother the region’s Christian population. One is strategic for Iran to expand a land bridge to the Mediterranean, across land that Christian communities currently reside in. The second is ideological and the “new Shi’ism” views that Christians are “pollution”.
The severity of persecution facing Christians in Iran remains largely unchanged. Sadly, things may get worse following changes to the country’s penal code, which further strangles religious freedom. Under the amendments, teaching the Bible or telling others about the Christian faith—which contradicts the teaching of Islam—could result in prosecution, as could the claim that Christians can communicate with Jesus, whom Islamic teaching regards as a prophet. Christians could also be accused of “insults … with the intent to cause violence or tensions.” This vague wording is open to interpretation, making Christians more vulnerable to unjust accusations.
Several Iranian Christian converts face persecution at the hands of the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence. Fariba Dalir, age 51, began her two-year prison sentence at Evin Prison on April 16. Rahmat Rostamipour, age 49, remains imprisoned after being interrogated and arrested at his home on April 18. Rostamipour’s wife Azar was originally to be arrested as well but was summed later due to a panic attack their teenage daughter suffered during the raid. Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) agents arrested Dalir alongside five other converts in July 2021, including her fiancé Soroush. Guards held her in solitary confinement for 38 days and later released her on November 18, 2021 after posting bail of about $22,000 USD.
Rahmat’s home in Anzali was raided by a dozen plainclothesmen in the early morning. IRGC agents confiscated Bibles, phones, ID cards, books, and the children’s school tablets. Authorities intended to arrest his wife as well but allowed her to stay due to their daughter’s trauma. Azar was summoned on April 19 for hours of interrogation, during which she was informally accused of “propaganda against the regime through involvement in house-church activities”.
- Pray that President Raisi will honor the rights and contributions of Iran’s religious minorities.
- Pray that God will change the hearts of religious leaders of Iran to recognize Jesus as their Lord.
- Pray that God will open the eyes of the authorities to see that Christians aren’t a threat to Iran but a valuable part of Iranian society. Ask Him to change the hearts of those in charge, that they may even see the hope of Jesus.
- Pray house churches will continue to powerfully equip believers for serving Jesus, and that God will keep them safe from raids and from harm.
- Pray for believers who are in prison because of their faith that God will give them hope and peace.
- Pray for the Christians to be protected and given wisdom in covert ministry work.
- Pray that the believers keep their eyes on Jesus and remain joyful amid suffering.
- Pray that the believers can love and forgive their persecutors.
- Pray that the internet will be a spiritual resource for all Christians and also have messages that minister to Muslims.
- Pray for believers that God will open doors to evangelism so that they can boldly share the Gospels.
- Pray to the Lord that the NGO’s will continue to support Christians, both spiritually, trauma counseling and daily needs.
- Pray to Jesus that He will continue to give an increase to the number of believers, encourage the leaders that the church will experience amazing growth.
Again, we want to lift up these persecuted witnesses to the Lord:
- Leah Sharibu, prisoner of Boko Haram since 2018. Pray for her release.
- Alice Loksha Ngaddah, kidnapped February 2019. She is a mother of two, working as a nurse for UNICEF. Pray for her release.
- Pray for Pastor Wang Yi to be released from prison.
- Pray for Anita, a Christian convert facing a long prison term who escaped from Iran and praying to go to a country where she can express her faith openly.
- For the release of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani from Iran, and his family as their Persecution continues. Pastor Nadarkhani is serving the second year of his six-year sentence.
Andy, Persecution Watch Prayer Call Moderator
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What is Persecution Watch?
Persecution Watch is a U.S. national prayer conference call ministry that prays specifically for the global Persecuted Church. For over a decade, Blaine Scogin led this national network of believers who faithfully pray for the persecuted and the global harvest for the Kingdom of God. The group meets via a free call-in service every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday night at 9pm Eastern time in the United States (please check your time zone). Blaine also served as Prayer Director for Voice of the Persecuted, and the missions became one. Brother Blaine passed into glory on December 26, 2019. It was truly a blessing for all of us to serve alongside this dear man of God and he will be greatly missed. The prayer mission of Persecution Watch remains an important part of our mission. Voice of the Persecuted is committed to continue the prayer conference call for the persecuted along with the dedicated Persecution Watch prayer warrior team.
Prior to the passing of Brother Blaine, he confirmed the passing of the torch as prayer conference call leader to Nadia Dybvik. Nadia has a burdened heart for the persecuted and is a prayer warrior standing in the gap for them. She joined the Persecution Watch prayer team in 2013 and has been part of the core ever since. Before becoming the prayer call leader, she served in the role of prayer moderator since 2015. Blaine chose Nadia for her faithfulness to pray for the persecuted and her strong commitment to the Persecution Watch mission. We are blessed not only with her gift of prayer, but her genuine love for every brother and sister in Christ that comes on the call to pray. May the Lord continue to bless Nadia and the prayer team in the mission and their personal lives.
“Pray for us” is the number one request that we hear from the persecuted. As the members of the first century Church were moved by the Holy Spirit to pray, we too must continue to serve those suffering persecution by lifting them up to the Lord through prayer.
On occasion, persecuted brothers and sisters have been invited on the conference call to share the trials they are facing. The team serves to encourage them by washing their feet in Spirit led prayer. Time is often reserved for those on the call to ask questions. We believe this helps to gain a better understanding of the situation that persecuted Christians endure in their specific nations. Q&A also helps us to focus our prayers based on their current needs.
Persecution Watch also hosts callers who want to pray united from other nations. If your heart is perplexed by the sufferings of our persecuted brothers and sisters, you no longer need to pray alone.
We welcome all who desire to pray for the persecuted church and consider it a joy to pray together with you. If you are new to the call and cannot find your voice, listen in and pray silently or on mute. We are grateful and thank the Lord for bringing us all together to pray in agreement for our persecuted family in Christ. We can all be prayer warriors on this call!
God bless and protect you in your faithfulness to serve.
Lois Kanalos, Founder, Voice of the Persecuted, Nadia Dybvik, Persecution Watch Prayer Call Leader and the Persecution Watch Prayer Team
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Note to Voice of the Persecuted (VOP) readers: The Persecution Watch prayer team is also the prayer team of Voice of the Persecuted. SIGN UP today.