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.

Christian Persecution: How Many Christians Have to Die Before We Admit That Boko Haram Are Terrorists?

Why does the US State Department resist calls to say what is obvious to so many and name Boko Haram a terrorist organization? That is the question the following Barnabas Aid article asks. According to the article, ” … calls earlier this year from the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and more than 20 American scholars for Boko Haram to be labelled a terrorist outfit largely fell on deaf ears in the US State Department, which in June named only three of the group’s leaders as foreign terrorists.”

At the same time, the terrorist attacks on Christians in Nigerian continue unabated. The bloodshed leads one to wonder just how many Nigerian Christians have to die before the organized attacks on them can be called terrorism?

The Barnabas Aid article reads in part:

As an international groundswell builds against the deadly activities of Islamist militants Boko Haram in Nigeria, why do the Nigerian government and the US State Department remain resistant to labelling the group a Foreign Terrorist Organisation?

Calls for the State Department to designate Boko Haram an FTO are intensifying as brutal attacks against Christians in the North show no signs of relenting. In the latest act of savagery, a group of suspected Boko Haram attackers went from house to house in the predominantly Christian part of the village of Chibok, Borno state, late on Saturday night (1 December). They set people’s houses on fire before slitting the throats of their victims, holding them upside down as when animals are slaughered; ten Christians were killed.
Later that night, gunmen killed five policemen as they attacked churches and government buildings in Gamboru Ngala, near the border with Cameroon. (Read more here.)


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