Vahik Abrahamian was released from prison in Hamedan,” an Open Doors contact from the region reports. “Monday morning August 29, he was released and has returned to his family.”
Early 2010 Vahik and his wife Sonia were arrested and held in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison in solitary confinement on charges of activities among the Muslim community. The couple had been working with drug addicts and other marginalized Iranians when authorities had become incensed that Abrahamian worked with Farsi-speaking Muslims, and even more that he had connections with foreign Christians. Abrahamian had become a Christian in the Netherlands, where he visited an Iranian church. At that time, he found freedom from his own drug addiction, and in 2006 he returned to Iran to work with drug users.
In prison for 53 days, Vahik and Sonai were released after bail was paid by a Dutch congregation along with family and friends. Then, again later that year on Sep 4, 2010, the couple was re-arrested along with two other Christians Arash and Arezou. Held in solitary confinement for 44 days they were treated badly, interrogated intensively and were not given the opportunity to contact family or friends to assure them that they were still alive. The prisoners where later transferred to a prison in their hometown of Hamedan, some 200 miles west of Tehran, where they spent another 8 months in jail. Sonia, Arash and Arezou were released earlier this year on April 30, but Abrahamian remained in custody until being release on August 29…spending in total 359 days in prison.
The Farsi Christian News Network (FCNN) reports that ‘the whole family is rejoicing and expressed their gratitude first to God for His gracious protection and intervention and secondly to the Christian family worldwide who have not ceased praying and advocating on their behalf. The news of worldwide prayer was a cause of comfort, strength and encouragement for the immediate family in Iran and overseas.’ Open Doors calls prayer supporters to praise God for the release of Vahik Abrahamian and also to pray for recovery for him and his wife Sonia, 359 days in Iranian prison has deeply impacted their lives. Continue to pray for the church in Iran for courage, perseverance and wisdom.
In a separate report, Chinese Pastor Zhang was released from prison in on the evening of August 31. Imprisoned since December 2004, Pastor Zhang of the China for Christ Church had been detained five times before and had previously spent a total of 12 years in prison. He suffered from several chronic diseases as well as a stroke in 2007 while serving his 7.5-year sentence. A house-church pastor for 30 years, Pastor Zhang was first jailed in 1974, and spent seven years in the Xi Hua labor camp for the crime of “counter-revolution under the guise of religion.”
Pastor Zhang is thankful to the Lord and all those who have prayed for him. He is now traveling to a coastal city with a family member, saying that he needs quiet time to rest in God and seek His will and guidance for future ministry. It is uncertain whether government officials are keeping him under surveillance.
Lord Jesus, we praise You for the mighty work You do in the hearts and minds even of people who do not have ready access to Your gospel. You save them in miraculous ways that are a testimony to Your Spirit’s work not only in their lives, but in ours. You set them free from the power of death and now You have set these earthly prisoners free. Thank You. Strengthen and encourage them to serve You now in freedom just as they continued to do in prison. They have touched many lives with Your gospel message; may that message take root and grow into a vast movement of those following Jesus in Iran just as You have done in China. Amen
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