Saturday, November 3, 2007

Judge rules beating victim guilty of 'evangelism':Says persecutors had right to attack because woman shared Christian testimony

An Iranian judge has concluded a woman who was attacked and beaten and had her sewing shop equipment destroyed by vandals has no legal recourse because she was guilty of "evangelism," according to a new report from Voice of the Martyrs, a worldwide ministry to the Persecuted Church.WND earlier reported that persecution of Christians inside Iran is on the increase, and the new report appears to confirm that.VOM said the newest testimony is from its contacts inside Iran, and actually depicts "the resilience of believers who are sharing the gospel despite persecution."The woman, whose name was not revealed, was running a tailoring business, and had volunteered to teach three young ladies how to sew. As part of the conversations that arose, her testimony about Christianity came up, and in response to a number of questions, she started teaching them about Christianity, Voice of the Martyrs said.The VOM contacts reported, however, one of the students was from "a fanatic Muslim family," and when they discovered the teaching, they first opposed it. "But this young lady was seriously following her Christian beliefs. Things got worse, to the extent that her parents started beating her up and threatening her if she didn't leave her faith," the VOM report said."They told her, 'If you don't return to Islam, we will keep beating you until you die,'" VOM said.She eventually fled to another city, and in their subsequent search for her, the parents and other family members sought the sewing instructor."They thought she might have taken refuge in the home of the lady who was teaching her how to sew. They had heard about her and the fact that she had evangelized their daughter. In any case, they contacted that lady and threatened her by telling her that if she did not send their daughter back to them, they would close down her shop and would even arrange to kill her," the report said."Within fundamentalist Islam, the penalty of someone who turns from Islam is death. That is why they had the right to kill her if they wanted to. Obviously, their daughter was not staying with that seamstress, but the parents did not believe this," VOM said."On one of the days when the seamstress was working in the dress shop, the young woman's family, including the father, went to the shop and broke all her equipment. A couple of ladies from the family started beating up the woman. They kept telling her that she forced their daughter to turn from Islam and become a Christian. They eventually informed the police about it. This lady was taken to the court because of all that had happened to her," the report continued."The judge considered her to be the guilty one. He told her that there was no way of refunding all the broken items in her shop. The judge said the persecutors had the right to attack her. The judge told the lady that if he heard about her doing evangelism again, he would punish her more severely," VOM said.She then moved to another city, where churchgoers helped her with her medical costs, and Voice of the Martyrs made a commitment to help her with her efforts to replace equipment and supplies in order to open another shop.Earlier WND reported on plans by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to "pave the path for the glorious reappearance of Imam Mahdi" by turning the country into a mighty and advanced Islamic society and by avoiding the corruption and excesses of the West. Shiites believe the 12th imam disappeared as a child in the year 941, but when he returns he will reign on earth for seven years, before bringing about a final judgment and the end of the world.Voice of the Martyrs, which makes available a newsletter providing updates on the persecution of Christians around the world, then confirmed Christians in Iran are being detained, interrogated and imprisoned."This … wave of persecution is coming against Christians that meet to worship God in the privacy of their homes," VOM said its Iranian sources revealed then. "We have confirmed reports that several believers have been interrogated and one house was stormed by an elite police team that confiscated a computer, several CDs and Christian materials. A Christian was arrested in this attack, and remains in prison.""Clearly, Iran's government is alarmed at the growth of the Christian faith there," said Todd Nettleton, a spokesman for the ministry that serves persecuted Christians worldwide.Experts monitoring such persecution say that Christians make up a tiny percentage of the people of Iran, where the government "officially" allows Christians to practice their faith but in reality intervenes and harasses Christians regularly.For example, Christians are not allowed to print literature, including Sunday bulletins, and converts from Islam to Christianity are labeled apostate and subject to the death penalty. Christian pastors are under constant surveillance, and many are forced to sign documents saying they will not allow Muslims to be in their worship services.

As in the days of Noah....

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