Sunday, July 13, 2008

Iran shows defiance; believers forced underground

Iran-Iran is playing a dangerous game with diplomacy and nuclear arms and now faces fresh sanctions.Iran successfully test fired nine long and medium-range missiles on Wednesday.The existence of a nuclear program has sparked a war of words and more threats.Iran expects talks on its disputed nuclear program to begin within days.All of this, says Open Doors' Carl Moeller, puts believers in a precarious position."The government itself is actually responding to this internal political pressure and the external realities of Christian influence in Iran with greater repression."Although foreign missions are not allowed to enter Iran,many agencies are cooperating with the existing church.As a result, as more Muslims have become disillusioned by their religion, a growing number have converted to Christianity.That often leads to more oppression.According to a recent Compass Direct report, a newly converted Christian couple was arrested by police for holding Bible studies with Muslims in their home and attending a house church.31-year old Makan Arya and 28-year old Tina Rad were seized from their home in east Tehran after one of Makan's relatives informed security police of the couple's Christian activities. Eventually the couple was pressured into signing a statement claiming they had not changed their religion from Islam and promising that they would stay away from their house church and other Christians.Christians make up less than one-half of one percent of the population and the persecution has forced believers underground.Iran is considering a change in their penal code that would mandate the death penalty for apostasy from Islam.In spite of that, officials at many ministries working to reach Iran say they've been flooded by the increase in the response from Iran.Many believers though, are cut off from fellowship and have limited access to resources that will help disciple them.Moeller says that's why they can't give up."Organizations like Open Doors that are committed to serving persecuted believers within Iran find it more difficult to do the things that we do.Let's just say that the impact of increasing Bibles, and the teaching and evangelism programming, is profound."He urges prayer."It is important that we remember that it's a spiritual battle and that we engage the forces of the enemy that would seek to use these political pressures and these tortures and these arrests to stop the growth of the church. But when God moves, no force on earth can stop it."
Pray for strength for those who come to Christ, despite the threats and dangers.
Pray that the government will be open to change and allow full rights and protection for non-Muslims.
As in the days of Noah...

No comments: