“I thank God for considering me worthy’—Beaten, imprisoned for choosing Jesus in Iran

July 30, 2021 by Lindy Lowry in Middle East

“I thank God for considering me worthy of enduring this persecution because of Him.”

 

Iranian believer Hamed Ashouri shared these words in a short video he recorded only days before submitting himself to Karaj’s Central Prison on July 27, 2001, to begin a 10-month sentence for what Iran’s Islamic government calls  “propaganda against the Islamic Republic.”

Reportedly, according to Article 18, in his video the 31-year-old also said he was arrested for his “Christian activities.”

In Iran—No. 8 on Open Doors’ World Watch List—those who leave Islam to practice Christianity are targeted for their decision. Despite the fact that Christians are recognized as a religious minority under Iranian law, security forces nevertheless pursue the issue of Muslims converting to Christianity.

Refusing to name names

Hamed’s case actually dates back to February 2019, though it was not reported until his sentencing earlier this year in April. The ordeal began the morning of February 23 as Hamed left his home in Fardis, west of the country’s capital city Teharan.

Targeted by Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence, Hamed was confronted and arrested by secret agents who then raided his home, looking for any Christian items they could find. When they had finished ransacking Hamed’s home, the agents had confiscated Bibles and Christian literature, as well as computer hard drives.

That day, Hamed was taken to a prison 20 miles away in Karaj and held in solitary confinement for 10 days before being transferred to Ghezel Hesar Prison, also in Karaj, for another two days.

While he was detained, authorities relentlessly Hamed and reportedly, at one point, offered a large monthly salary to the Christian convert become an informant on other Christians.

Boldly, Hamed refused the offer. And he was beaten for his perseverance.

Watch what happened when Iranian believer Taher refused to give up names of Christians:

After Hamed submitted guarantees in the form of payslips, authorities finally released him on bail and ordered him and a family member to attend Islamic re-education classes. But the harassment didn’t stop there. Reportedly, Iran’s security forces relentlessly threatened and harassed him and his family.

After four classes, Hamed refused to participate any further—a decision that quickly triggered court proceedings against him. Delayed by COVID-19, the case began in March 2021 and a month later Hamed was sentenced.

The day his appeal was rejected, Hamed was summoned to Central Prison in Karaj to begin his sentence. Reportedly, Central Prison is rife with human rights abuses. Halls are overcrowded, with prisoner authorities packing 700 people into halls that have the capacity for 200. Many prisoners are forced to sleep on the ground and cardboard. The prison also has poor sanitary conditions, with prisoners regularly facing water shortages. Every day from 2 pm to 6 pm, the facility’s water is cut off, and food rations have diminished to a quarter of what they used to be—prisoners are “always hungry,” a report said.

For the next 10 months, this will be Hamad’s world—for the “crime” of leaving Islam to follow Jesus.

photo: Article18

Pray with our family in Iran

Currently, at least 18 Iranian Christians have either been summoned to prison, are serving prison sentences or living in enforced internal exile as a result of arrests and charges related to the peaceful practice of their faith. Visit the link below to read their stories and pray with your Iranian sisters and brothers by name (listed below) as they serve their sentences or prepare to report to prison.

  • Hamed Ashoori
  • Reza Zaeemi
  • Reza N.
  • Farhad Khazaee
  • Alireza M.
  • Sasan Khosravi
  • Habib Heydari
  • Homayoun Zhaveh
  • Sara Ahmadi
  • Babak Hosseinzadeh
  • Behnam Akhlagh
  • Ismaeil Maghrebinejad
  • Nasser Navard Gol-Tapeh
  • Yousef Nadarkhani
  • Zaman (Saheb) Fadaie
  • Mohammad-Reza (Youhan) Omidi
  • Abdolmajid Heydari
  • Ebrahim Firouzi
Christians imprisoned in Iran
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