Remember Those In Bonds

IRAN TODAY post by Halex

Remember Those In Bonds

This Sunday, November 8, is the International Day to Pray for the Persecuted church. Christians are being asked to pray particulary for the persecuted church around the world.

Churches across the United States and around the world are preparing to “remember those in bonds” (Hebrews 13:3). Begun in 1996, IDOP is a day for intercessory prayer and citizen action on behalf of persecuted Christian communities worldwide. “

As our staff meets with persecuted Christians around the world, their first request is that we pray for them,” says Todd Nettleton, Director of Media Development for The Voice of the Martyrs - USA. “IDOP is a day when the collective Body of Christ joins together to answer their request.”

Some churches devote the entire day to persecuted Christians, while others hold a special prayer time during their regular services. It is estimated that more than 100,000 churches have taken part in IDOP activities since 1996, and churches in more than 130 countries have participated.

"Our persecuted family is not asking us to pray that the persecution will stop,” says Nettleton. “They’re asking us to pray they will remain faithful to Christ in spite of the persecution and pressure they face.”

The Voice of the Martyrs has developed a special IDOP Church Resource kit, including a four-minute video presentation, that encourages church congregations to pray and that provides ideas about practical ways to help persecuted Christians. Visit for more information on the resource kit, as well as downloadable resources to help your church pray effectively.

This is an important day in the church calendar,” says Nettleton. “But we don’t want it to be something a church crosses off their list and doesn’t think about for 12 more months. Our hope is that this one day of prayer leads to 364 more days of prayer and action on behalf of our persecuted brothers and sisters.”

Pray for the Persecuted Church In Iran

Since the 1979 the Islamic Revolution Christian churches have been consistently intimidated in Iran? During that time frame eight church leaders have been killed; hundreds of Christians taken in for questioning in prison; and some churches closed? There was a brief respite during the Khatami years, but the hostility began again after the election of President Ahmadinejad in 2005. In 2008 there were over fifty arrests, with some Christians being kept in prison for several months, and to date in 2009 there have been over 30 known cases, including that of Maryam Rostampour and Marzieh Esmeilabad. And as from the end of October the government have forced the central Assemblies of God church in Tehran to close two of its services.

This year in particular Christians in Iran would like you to intercede in prayer for the following three items:

1. Maryam and Marzieh, eight months in prison for loving ‘Jesus’

Arrested on March 5th, these two Christian women have been detained in Evin prison for over eight months. Their sole crime is being born into Muslim families and later choosing to follow Jesus Christ. In prison they have suffered ill health and periods in solitary confinement which they described as being ‘like a grave’. Initially there was a political charge, but this has been dropped and now the only issue is their supposed ‘apostasy’ from Islam. It has been made clear to them that if they recant their faith in Christ, their situation will improve. They have refused.

Please pray for

The immediate release of Maryam and Marzieh
Their health in prison
Their plight to put more pressure on Muslim countries to reform the ‘apostasy’ law

2. Friday services in Tehran’s largest church, forced to close

On Friday October 30th Rev. Sourik, overseer of the Assemblies of God Churches in Iran, announced at the Central Church in Tehran that their two weekly Friday services, held since the 1960’s, had been forced to close by government officials. The congregation were stunned, some wept openly. This church has long been the largest for Iranians and these services, held in Persian, have been attracting the large number of Iranians for many years: the worship is exuberant, the preaching Biblical, the praying passionate. Extremists have long wanted to end them as many Persian speakers have come to faith in Jesus, and so become ‘apostates’. This action underlines the determination of hardliners to enforce the belief that Christianity in Iran is only for ethnic Christians – the Armenians and Assyrians – and that Christian services should only be in their ethnic languages. Historically these attempts to stop the Gospel spreading among all peoples in a country have always failed. Jesus Christ’s orders to make disciples of all nations, including Persian speaking Iranians, will still be obeyed whatever temporary orders come from men who think they know better than Him.

Pray for

That this closed door will lead to a thousand new ones opening
Wisdom for the leaders of the Assemblies of God Churches in Iran and around the world and that those who used to attend these Friday services to be able to meet with believers
The authorities who acted against the church to fear Jesus Christ

3. New Islamic Penal Code Might Make Death Sentence Mandatory

In a vast new Islamic penal code currently going through the legislative bodies, there are clauses that would make Shari’a punishment for apostates from Islam compulsory. This is the death sentence for the man and life imprisonment until ‘repentance’ for the woman. In July there was a report from one official that these clauses would be dropped, but there will be no guarantee about this till the whole penal code enters the statute book, especially as the Guardian Council that has the final say on all legislation is composed of strict conservatives. Though Iran’s courts have always had the powers to use the death sentence in the cases of a man found guilty of apostasy from Islam, to date this has only happened once: in the case of Mehdi Dibaj, sentenced to death by the local court in Sari in 1993. If this legislation passed and made Shari’a punishments mandatory, there could be a dramatic increase in these sentences. And most would be directed against Christians as the hundreds of Iranians who are turning to Christ these days are from Muslim families.

Please pray for

The anti apostasy clauses to be permanently deleted from the code
Courageous politicians to demand the reform of the apostasy law
Christian to know boldness, despite the risks.

Thank you.

Christians are being persecuted worldwide

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