Christian Pastor Behnam Irani was sentenced to six years imprisonment in 2011 for his Christian activities. He led a 300-member evangelical congregation in Karaj. He is now suffering from serious health problems, including internal bleeding, according to the advocacy group Christian Solidarity Worldwide.
Pastor Irani now faces the death penalty after having been charged with “spreading corruption on earth”.
Iranian President Hasan Rouhani has led a brutal crackdown on Iran’s Christian community, he and the religious mullahs are concerned about the spread of Christianity and the numbers of its Muslim community that have been converting to the Christian faith. The oppressed people of Iran seek hope, and the message of hope offered by the Christian faith is something that the Iranian government fears.
The treatment of Pastor Irani is nothing new by the Iranian government. Pastor Saeed Abedini, who is actually a U. S. citizen, and whose wife and two young children remain here in the states, has been imprisoned in Iran since 2012 – sentenced to eight years in prison, reportedly on charges of undermining national security through his Christian evangelistic activities in Iran. He too has suffered at the hands of his captors, most recently having been beaten unconscious by Iranian guards when they came to a hospital where Pastor Abedini was being treated to return him to prison.
Hundreds of thousands of Christians around the world continue to pray for those being held in Iran’s prisons because of their faith. Pastor Abedini’s wife has spoken openly about her husband’s imprisonment, and has asked the federal government for help in attaining his release, even going so far as to meet with State Department officials personally. So far, Iran has indicated that they have no intention of releasing either Irani or Abedini from custody.
I hope that the Christian community here in the United States, as well as around the world, will continue in their prayers for these brave men and all of those who face persecution and death while standing firmly on their faith in Jesus Christ. Please, remember there families as well.
In Iran, a part of the world where Islam is recognized as the main religious belief, apostasy – or turning from Islam and converting to Christianity is considered a crime punishable by death.