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Behnam Irani, is a pastor from Karaj, Iran, convicted of crimes against national security in January 2011 and sentenced to one year in prison.
Officers from the Ministry of Intelligence and National Security (MOIS) raided Irani’s house church on April 14, 2010, and assaulted him before taking him into custody. Although he was released on bail two months after his arrest, he later received the one-year prison sentence.
When Irani voluntarily began serving his sentence in May 2011, he was prepared to spend one year in prison. But he received a letter in October stating that he must now serve five years from his previous sentence.
Irani was first arrested in December 2006 and tried for crimes against national security. He was released in January 2007 but was soon re-arrested, tried and sentenced to five years in prison. Irani was never called to serve the sentence that is now being held against him.
For the first few months of his sentence, Behnam Irani was held in solitary confinement in a very small cell. Afterward, he was moved to another small cell with other prisoners. The room was so full, the prisoners were not able to lie down to sleep, so they had to sit all day and night. The room also got very hot. Prison authorities had beaten him regularly. All his hair has turned white.
Irani became a pastor in 2002, 10 years after becoming a Christian.
Now imprisoned for 18 months, Pastor Behnam Irani needs our encouragement and our prayers. Though his body is sick, (is still facing intestinal bleeding. His family is very concerned because his brother died from intestinal cancer.) his faith remains strong and is full of the joy of the Lord. He is definitely not weak and discouraged there in prison. Pray for his healing and doors will be opened for the surgery that is needed. Pray that God would strengthen and encourage his faith. And pray for Pastor Irani’s wife and family as they are forced to endure hardships while living without him.
INSTRUCTIONS BELOW MUST BE FOLLOWED TO PROTECT PASTOR IRANI
When writing your letters, please do not state anything negative about the Iranian government. Do not mention any foreign organization, or church that is supporting the efforts to free Christian prisoners. While it is safe for prisoners to receive encouraging letters, naming an organization or church, or criticizing the Iranian government could potentially place Pastor Irani in more harm. Please do not do anything to make matters any worse for him. Including Bible verses in your letter is encouraged.
Send your letters to:
Thank you for your love and concern for our persecuted family in Christ!
Christian Syrian refugees have found temporary shelter in Jordan, but their immigration requests have been rejected by Western countries.
Some of them have spoken to the Associated Press, but want to remain anonymous for safety reasons.
One Syrian refugee said, “Everyone sold whatever they owned in Syria in order to get here, so that we could apply for visas at an embassy. We were all surprised to be rejected on the basis that there was no reason for us to go to Europe. Their reasons were all false – nothing correct in them.”
Another man said that western countries “were supposed to support us, and they were supposed to facilitate our immigration process as Christians, and I’m very sad that they haven’t.”
About 70 Syrian families, who fled the violence and civil war of their homeland, are staying in halls and extra rooms of an Assyrian church in the capital Amman. Though the families are receiving food, aid and money from the church, they say the living conditions are difficult and they do not have enough heat to keep warm. Christmas Day lacked the traditional happiness and joy one usually finds during the Holiday season “I can’t feel happy about Christmas while our country is bleeding,” one refugee said.
Another refugee said, “We are suffering a lot here. Our only celebration today was inside a church to pray to God to restore security and peace in Syria.” According to Jordanian officials, more than 1.3 million Syrian refugees have fled Syria since the beginning of the civil war.
Those that have not fled face threats to their safety from violence or even malnutrition.
The Syrian government has blockaded access to a rebel-occupied town called Moadamiyeh, threatening the livelihood of residents there.
Syrian officials say they will allow food into a military blocked town as long as the occupying rebels meet certain conditions – they must raise the Syrian national flag and surrender heavy weapons.
The rebels in Moadamiyeh agreed to the terms on Wednesday, and by Thursday the flag was flying.
The raising of the flag is a symbolic victory for the Syrian government under President Bashar Assad.
Though food is now allowed, the deal allows for limited daily entries only, ensuring that residents could be quickly blockaded again.
However, food deliveries have yet to arrive, because the Syrian government wants a military committee to seize the heavy weapons first. The truce additionally calls for the removal of anyone who is not a registered resident of Moadamiyeh, a condition likely to thin rebel ranks.
An opposition activist, nicknamed Qusai Zakarya for security reasons, said most of the town’s leaders were against the truce deal.
“But there are 8,000 hungry people here, and nobody helped us,” Zakarya said.
Rebels have held the town near Damascus and it has been under military blockade for months, not allowing food, fuel, or clean water to enter the town.
For the town’s 8,000 civilians malnutrition is a concern. Children and the elderly have already been badly affected with illnesses made worse from hunger. The Western-backed exiled opposition group, the Syrian Coalition, said the deal demonstrated how Assad’s government used “food as a tool of war.”