Iran (MNN) – On December 12th, authorities in Karaj, Iran disrupted a house church gathering and detained Amin Khaki, Milad Goudarzi, Shahab Shahi, and Alireza Nourmohamadi. Since the arrest, the whereabouts of these four men have been unknown.
Miles Windsor with Middle East Concern says while they haven’t heard of any charges against these four men, there is a particular prison suspected where they may be held.
(Photo courtesy of Middle East Concern)
“In this case, they have been able to contact their families just to say that they are okay, that they are well. But their whereabouts tend to become disclosed over time, especially as charges are filed against them and proceedings start in terms of court hearings. But there’s usually a period of interrogation at this stage. Usually, they’ll be called upon to giveaway more information on other house churches and other Christian leaders. So it’s a difficult time.”
On the World Watch List, Iran is currently ranked 8th out of the top 50 countries with the harshest Christian persecution. But, amazingly, Iran also has the fastest growing evangelical population in the world.
“A great many Iranians have been coming to Christ and it’s something which the authorities are clearly very unhappy about. So there are periodic arrests, detentions, [and] imprisonments. There have been a lot of charges lately which are suggesting an even greater clampdown – sentences of 10-15 years in some cases for Christians. And usually, the authorities will suggest that this the result of undermining the state or seeking to collaborate against the state and will use more political charges than say apostasy or blasphemy laws.”
Windsor says this is the paradox of persecution, played out in the Iranian Church. “What we see in Iran is something that really speaks to the truths of the Bible such as can be found in Psalm 2 where these authorities set themselves up against God’s people. And yet, God is working extraordinarily and can’t be stopped.
“What we’re seeing — in spite of this [persecution] — is extraordinary faith, extraordinary boldness on the part of those who are turning to faith in Iran.”
As we wait to see if charges will be filed against these four men, please spend time in fervent prayer for the men and their families. “Obviously, we would ask for prayer that there will be no charges filed against them, that they’ll be released without charge and unconditionally, [and] that they’ll be able to return to their families…. Do be lifting them up before God, that they would remain strong in very, very trying and unpleasant situations.”
Additionally, Windsor asks, “We also need to be praying for those who are suffering – and they are suffering greatly there. There are a considerable number of cases that we’re monitoring and that we’re seeking to conduct advocacy for where people are awaiting the appeal hearing decisions on sentences that are on 10 years, 15 years in some cases because they choose to follow Christ.”