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Iranian Believers Detained in Raids

January 9, 2013 by Open Doors in General

Iranian Pastor

Christmas is a time of celebration for Christians everywhere, but in Iran and other Muslim countries, it also means heightened security. In mid-December, Pastor Yousef, was ordered to report to the police on a daily basis, as a continuation of his 3-year sentence, of which he had completed all but one month. When he checked in on Christmas Day, he was detained, again. He was released on January 7th with orders to report back in 30 days to complete some documentation.

On December 27, a group of 15 police and security agents interrupted a gathering of approximately 50 believers, most from Muslim backgrounds, at a Christmas celebration. Though courteous, they forced all attendees to complete a detailed, pre-prepared questionnaire. The required information included contact details, email and social media ID and password information, as well as details of how they had come to accept Christianity. The authorities confiscated mobile phones and informed attendees that they would be summoned individually to the local security office following investigation.

One of those present, Pastor Vruir Avanessian of Armenian descent, was taken into custody and remains detained in Evin prison in Tehran. According to reports, some security agents proceeded from the Christmas gathering to the home of Pastor Vruir where they confiscated computer equipment, CDs and literature. His wife and children were at the home during this raid. Local believers are seriously concerned for Pastor Vruir’s health. He has chronic kidney disease for which he requires dialysis twice a week. Many feared that, while detained, he would not receive the necessary medical attention. However, on December 31st it was confirmed that prison guards had escorted him to a hospital to receive dialysis treatment, and then returned him to the prison.

On the Dec 31, two men in the same church network as Pastor Yousef were arrested in raids on their home in Rasht. Behzad and Mohammed-Reza are currently in a Ministry of Intelligence and Security detention facility, but are expected to be transferred to Lakan Prison shortly. Behzad is single; Mohammed-Reza has a wife and two children.

Iran is #8 on the World Watch List of countries where persecution of Christians is most severe.

Father, we come before You boldly today on behalf of these men. We pray that officials will act with the Spirit’s mercy and justice, and we pray that as they see Christ in these believers they will turn to You. We pray that You will protect Pastor Yousef’s liberty. We pray for the protection and quick release of Pastor Vruir, Behzad and Mohammed-Reza and that You will watch over Pastor Vruir’s health. We pray for the other believers who were questioned that they will know Your peace, that the investigations will be dropped, and that they will face no further legal proceedings. And we pray for the families of all these believers that they will know Your peace and provision. In the name of Jesus who is present with us in all our circumstances, Amen.

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