Iran: Trying to Stifle the Holy Spirit with Persecution

This story of Christian persecution has a twist.

Iranian government officials raided the Central Assemblies of God Church in Tehran May 21. They arrested the pastor, Rev Robert Aserian and seized his books, documents and equipment, including his computer.

Iran pastor 4X3

Rev Robert Aserian, Barnabas Aid Photo

The charge? Pastor Aserian had been conducting services in Farsi, which is the language that people speak in Iran.

This is akin to arresting someone in America for making speeches in English.

Why would they do this?

My guess is that the reason for trying to force the pastor and his church to conduct services in some other language than Farsi is precisely because people could understand Farsi. I think the Holy Spirit was working in that church and Iranian people were converting to Christianity. The fact that the church has discipleship classes on Saturdays for new Christians seems to indicate that there are a good number of converts.

The Assemblies of God Church in Iran began in 1955 with a single house church. Now there are congregations across the country. That sounds like people are converting, and they are doing it in significant numbers.

This has resulted in persecution of church members, especially the church leaders. For instance, Pastor Farhad Sabokrouh, who leads an Assemblies of God church in Ahwaz, Iran, along with his wife Shahaz Jeizan were recently sentence to one-year prison sentences. 

Iranian christian beaten for her faith

Iranian Christian, beaten by police. Photo by Barnabas Aid

Hundreds of Christian converts have been arrested and detained throughout Iran in the past few years. They have been subjected to intense interrogation and verbal and physical abuse. Some were prosecuted, while others have been forced to pay exorbitant sums for bail.

Several members of the Central Assemblies of God Church in Tehran have been killed, and, as a local source told Barnabas Aid:

The pressure has become unbearable. They constantly threaten the church leaders and their families with imprisonment, unexplained accidents, kidnapping and even with execution. We cannot go on like this.

The twist in this story is that it’s not about a shrinking population of Christians who are barely hanging on. It’s about a thriving and growing Christian ministry that is built on conversions. Will the Iranian government be able to stifle the Holy Spirit with persecution?

There are probably more of these stories than we know. These people need our prayers and any support we can give them.

  • Linda Kreger

    My heart aches for so many who are persecuted around the world for their faith. And I believe that the persecution is already in place in America, and it won’t be long before we’ll have our own stories to tell. Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

  • pagansister

    Nothing changes it seems. Religious dictatorships can’t handle those who decide to make up their own minds about a faith or lack of a faith. Conformity is the rule, not choice.

  • Lynda

    In the West many Christian leaders would rather protect relationships with representatives of Islam in order to promote dialogue than stand up for these persecuted Christians. It is the greatest scandal in all respects in the Church today.

  • Ed

    The Iranian government’s policy toward Christians seems to be “if you can’t beat them, then beat them to death.” Very sad. I hope Pope Francis boldly condemns Iran for its abysmal treatment of Christians.

    • pagansister

      Do you actually think that Iran will care what Pope Frances says regarding their policy towards Christians? They could care less what the outside world thinks.

      • Ed

        Pagansister,

        Iran won’t care, but the outside world cares how Iran behaves and treats its citizens. If the Pope’s condemnation would make even a tiny difference that’s progress. Your cynicism won’t help, that’s for sure.

        • pagansister

          Time will tell.

  • Renee Lin

    Lord Jesus Christ, bless and protect Your persecuted body all over the world, especially those with no access to Your physical presence in the Holy Eucharist!


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