Newsflashes from the Persecuted Church

December 17, 2013 by Open Doors

Iran: Pastor Avanessian Sentenced to over 3 Years in Prison From Mohabat News

The Revolutionary Court of Tehran with the full awareness that Rev. Vruir Avanessian, one of the official ordained pastors of Assemblies of God Churches in Iran, is suffering from serious illnesses, sentenced him to 3+ years in prison. According to reports obtained by Mohabat News, the Revolutionary Court of the Islamic Republic of Iran, in its on-going oppressive and intimidating anti-Christian campaign, targeting Christian leaders and pastors of Iranian Churches, sentenced Rev. Vruir Avanessian, an ordained Iranian minister of Armenian heritage, to prison.

Based on official court documents obtained by Mohabat News on Dec. 5, 2013, including a signed order by the court judge, the court imposed the 3+ year sentence delivered to Rev. Avanessian. In these documents Rev. Avanessian was charged and found guilty of anti-government activities and promotion of ideas contrary to the sanctity of the Islamic Republic of Iran. He was also given 20 days to file a complaint in the court against the verdict and the imposed sentence.The initial court hearing regarding the allegations against Rev. Vruir Avanessian was held on Sept. 7, 2013 at the 26th judicial division of the Revolutionary Court of Tehran. This hearing was held behind closed doors and was closed to the public. It was decided at this hearing that until the announcement of the verdict of the court, Rev. Avanessian was to remain at home and avoid all contacts with other Christians.

It must be mentioned that Vruir Avanessian, a talented Christian singer and former secular artist who had been an ordained pastor of the Armenain and Farsi-speaking congregations of the Assemblies of God churches in Iran for more than 17 years, is currently suffering from serious heart disease and diabetes. He undergoes kidney dialysis three times week at Heshemi-Nejad hospital, a private clinic in Tehran, and has been retired from active ministry due his medical condition. The court was fully aware of Rev. Avanessian’s medical condition and issued a harsh sentence despite such prior knowledge of his health. It’s noteworthy that on the very day that Rev. Avanessian was to be present at the court hearing, he was at the dialysis clinic and was unable to attend the proceedings.

Turkey: Evangelist from U.S. Blacklisted by Government– from World Watch Monitor

A Canadian-American street evangelist left Istanbul on Saturday Dec. 14 after Turkey’s Ministry of Interior repeatedly denied him a residence permit with no explanation. David Byle, Chairman of the Bible Correspondence Course (BCC), has opened a court case against Turkey’s Ministry of Interior in an effort to remove his name from the country’s blacklist. In the last three years, Byle, 44, has been arrested, taken to court, been denied entry to the country and threatened with deportation. He has also spent time in prison.

But the final straw for him has been in the last two years when he has repeatedly been denied a residence permit without any explanation. He has lived in Turkey since 1999. Authorities refuse to explain why Byle is on their blacklist, but Byle says it is because of his Christian evangelism in Istanbul, where he and teams from the BCC gather crowds on the streets with the use of a sketch-board.

His lawyer has requested a written explanation from the authorities, who have stayed silent and advised that Byle apply for a visa from his home country. To that end, the US citizen flew to Chicago, leaving behind in their Istanbul home his wife, who is German, and their five children aged between eight and 14.

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