Our local ministry partners in Iran have sent us an urgent prayer request to share with you: “Iranian Christians request prayer for two believers who were arrested last week in Mashhad and Karaj.”
Behnam Ersali and Davood Rasooli, both Christian converts from Karaj, had arranged to meet in Mashhad, but it is believed that Iranian intelligence had intercepted the calls and learned of the arrangement.
Behnam was already in Mashhad on November 16, staying at a friend’s house, when six security agents raided the home and arrested Behnam and a friend. After a few hours in detention, Benham’s friend was released, but he remains detained; his whereabouts are unknown. Behnam had previously been fired from his job because he was a Christian.
Two security agents arrested Davood at 6 a.m. at his home in Karaj as he was preparing to go to Mashhad. They took him away and later returned to search his house and confiscate some books and other personal belongings. Friends believe that he is in solitary confinement and undergoing interrogation in Rajai Shahr Prison west of Tehran, known for ongoing executions by hanging and inhumane treatment of prisoners.
A Constant Threat to the State
In Iran, Christians are second-class citizens, forced to worship in secret. When their faith is discovered, they face persecution from both society and the state. Because, to Iranian Muslims (who constitute 98 percent of the 79 million people in Iran), Christianity is a condemnable Western influence and a constant threat to the Islamic identity of the Republic.
With this as the accepted viewpoint, brutal oppression awaits specific “offenders,” including any Christian who converts from Islam (a crime legally punishable by death under the Islamic Penal Code). Driving home the inferior social status, Iran has made speaking the country’s official language of Farsi during church worship services illegal. And anyone like Behnam and Davood who leads or participates in a house church (an illegal act) faces arrest and imprisonment.
Praying with Iranian Christians for Behnam and Davood:
- Pray that they will know God’s strengthening power and wisdom to stand up to police interrogations.
- Ask God to encourage their families and friends and protect those close to the two men.
- Pray the two men will be released soon from detention, which appears to be solely based on their Christian faith and desire to meet other Christians.