Many of you have been praying for 33-year-old Pastor Saeed Abedini, his wife Nagmeh and their children, Rebekka and Jacob. He came to faith in 2000, and became involved in house churches. In 2005, he left Iran to live in the United States, where his wife has lived for most of her life. He obtained dual citizenship in the U.S. and Iran. Saeed became a pastor in the U.S., but returned to Iran on a number of occasions, most recently in 2012 to visit an orphanage. During this latest visit, he was arrested by Iranian authorities. Though this was not his first arrest, this is the first time he has been forced to remain in detention, sentenced to eight years in prison. He is currently in the notorious Raja Shahr prison in Karaj.
Pastor Saeed is just one of the many Christians imprisoned for their faith in Iran, and they each have a story. The following list contains the known names of the prisoners imprisoned for their Christian faith in Iran, though there are likely others. Some may have been released, but are still in need of our prayers. At the end is a list of those known to have been released. A few of their stories are included.
- 3/5/14: Amin Khaki (m) Hossein Barunzadeh (m) Rahman Bahman (m)
- 12/31/13: Sara Rahimi Nejad (f) Majid Sheidaei (m) Mostafa Nadri (m) George Isaian (m)
- 12/24/13: Hosseini (m) Ahmad Bazyar (m) Faegeh Nasrolahi (f) Mastaneh Rastegari (f) Amir Hossein Nematollahi (m) Rasoul Abdollahi (m)
- 12/13, arrested at the University of Kerman: Kiavosh Sotoudeh (m) Jamshid Jabbari (m)
- Summer 2013, Evin prison: Maryam Naghash Zargaran (f).
- 8/9/13: Parham Farazmand (m) Sedigheh Kiani (f) Sara Sardsirian (f) Mona Fazli (f) and one other person belonging to this group, name unknown. They were arrested during a meeting of their house church. All members had to hand in their identity cards, but only five were arrested.
- 8/13: Sedigheh Amirkhani (f) Mahnaz Rafieee (f) Mohammad Reza Peymani (m)
- 7/13, Karaj prison: Hossein Saketi Aramsari (m)
- 7/13, Shiraz prison: Mehdi Ameruni (m) Roxana Forughi (f) Farokhpour Haghighi (m) Lahooti (m) Massoud Rezaie (m) Eskander Rezaie (m) Mohammad Roghangir (m) Suroush Saraie (m)
- 7/13: Yashar Farzin (m) Farshid Modares-Aval (m) Mohammed-Reza Pirri (m) Arrested after house raids, questioned by secret services.
- Spring 2013, Evin prison: Somayeh Bakhtiari (f) Ronak Samavit (f) Nasim Zanjani (f) Accused of organizing house church meetings.
- 3/13, Evin prison: Ebrahim Firouzi (m) Sentenced to one year in prison and a subsequent two year exile to Sarbaz, an isolated village on the border with Pakistan.
- 12/25/12, now awaiting final judgment outside prison: Pastor Vruir Avanessian (m, 60+ years old) Arrested during a raid on a house church meeting celebrating Christmas; 50 believers were present at the meeting.
- 7/12, Rajai Shahr prison: Pastor Saeed Abedini (m) Story at the beginning of this article
- 3/12, Evin prison: Alireza Seyyedian (m)
- 2/12, Shiraz, Adel-Abad prison: Vahid Hakkani (m) Mojtaba Hossein (m) Mohammed Reza Partoei (m) Homayoun Shokouhi (m) Have told trusted sources that they have had many opportunities to share the gospel inside the prison. Homayoun’s wife, Fariba, and son, Nima, (17) were also imprisoned, but have been (temporarily) released.
- May 2011, Ghezal Hesar prison: Pastor Behnam Irani (m) He and his wife Kristina, an Armenian Christian, have two children, Rebecca and Adriel. Turning to Christ in 1992, he was a pastor for 9 years before his 2011 arrest. His health has been very poor. PTL that he recently received much needed surgery, but still needs prayer for his health. Pray also for his Kristina and the children.
- December 2010, Evin prison: Pastor Farshid Fathi (m) He and his wife Leila have two children Rosana and Bardia. In August of 2013, he wrote in a letter describing the manipulation by his interrogators giving him false reports of his wife’s arrest, their children’s need for temporary custody, and of his father’s heart attack. “It was all intended to put me under mental pressure,” he said. In fact, his wife and children have fled to Canada now. Thankfully, Elam ministries reports that he is “a beacon for Christ,” beloved by the inmates for his sweet nature.
Those who have been released-their struggle is far from over. They need rest and recovery. They often cannot risk contact with other Christians because of spies. This isolated position can impede the restoration process. Often they are pressured to not tell anything to anybody about their harrowing experiences. They need the powerful love and consolation of the Lord.
From Evin Prison:
Mitra Zahmati (f), Maryam Jalili (f), Mustafa Bordbar (m), Sevada Aghasar (m)
Nasr Zamen-Dezfuli (m), Davoud Alijani (m), Pastor Farhad Sabokrouh (m), Shahnaz (wife of pastor Farhad who was also released January of 2014). The Assemblies of God church has been closed, pastor Farhad is no longer allowed to pastor, and Shahnaz must to report to the secret services every four months.
Fariba Shokouhi (f, hustand still in prison), Nima Shokouhi (m, 17 years old, father still imprisoned)
Father, in prison or out, we pray for these faithful believer, our brothers and sisters in Christ, who have suffered imprisonment for their faith. Let their names always be before us that they might not be forgotten and encourage them with the knowledge of our intercession on their behalf. We pray for their health, that You might sustain them in the midst of illness and harsh treatment. We pray for courage to meet each day with faith, and for Your presence to be apparent. Surround them in Your peace and comfort, watch over them as they sleep. Bring about justice that they might be released from prison, but while they are there we pray they might be a beacon of truth and light, reflecting the presence of Christ in them. In the name of Jesus, who has set us free from the bondage of sin, Amen.