10 YEARS IN PRISON FOR HOSTING A HOUSE CHURCH IN IRAN

The Revolutionary Court of Tehran has sentenced an Iranian-Armenian Christian man to 10 years in prison for establishing a house church, which the judge called “propaganda contrary to and disturbing to the holy religion of Islam,” according to reports.

Saba Kord Afshari is just 22 years old. In August 2019, the Revolutionary Court of Tehran sentenced her to 24 years in prison for opposing the compulsory hijab.

Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court of Tehran, headed by Judge Afshari, sentenced Anooshavan Avedian, 60, to 10 years of imprisonment, alongside two others who are members of his house church — Abbas Soori, 45, and Maryam Mohammadi, 46 — both of whom are converts to Christianity, Human Rights Activists News Agency reported.

Article 18, a U.K.-based organization that promotes religious freedom in Iran, reported that Soori and Mohammadi received a range of non-custodial punishments, including a fine of about $2,000 (500 million rials) and a 10-year ban from membership in social and political groups as well as a two-year exile outside Tehran. In addition, they must regularly report to the offices of the Ministry of Intelligence.

The three were convicted on the charge of “organizing and running an Evangelical ‘Zionist’ home church with the intention to act against national security” and “maintaining satellite dish and receivers.”

They were first arrested in August 2020 when about 30 intelligence agents raided a private gathering at Avedian’s home in Narmak are in northeastern Tehran, but their case came to light only recently.

The agents confiscated all the Bibles and communication devices with passwords.

In Tehran’s Evin Prison, the three were subjected to psychological torture during several intense interrogation sessions.

Judge Afshari pronounced Avedian guilty of “establishing and leading an illegal group with the aim of disrupting the security of the country through education and propaganda activities contrary to and disturbing to the holy religion of Islam, through the dissemination of false claims … as well as contact with foreign countries, or organisational guidance from abroad.”

The Christians’ defense was met with “disrespectful remarks toward their character, and insults to their faith,” according to Article 18, which also said that over the past decade, authorities in Iran have closed down nearly all churches that offered services in Persian, the national language, or insisted they teach only in the ethnic minority languages.

The Islamic Republic is ranked as the ninth-worst country in the world when it comes to Christian persecution, according to Open Doors USA’s World Watch List. 

“Converts from Islam to Christianity are most at risk of persecution, especially by the government and to a lesser extent by society and their own families,” it says.

“The government sees the growth of the church in Iran as an attempt by Western countries to undermine Islam and the Islamic regime of Iran. House groups made up of converts from Muslim backgrounds are often raided, and both their leaders and members have been arrested, prosecuted, and given long prison sentences for “crimes against national security.”

The Muslim religion is an antichrist religion and Biblical prophecy reveals the Antichrist (Little Horn) arises out of one of four Muslim nations when the revived Ottoman Empire is broken up (perhaps by the U.N. or Russia) into four nations.

Then the goat (revived Ottoman Empire) became exceedingly great, but when he was strong, the great horn was broken, and instead of it there came up four conspicuous horns toward the four winds of heaven.
Out of one of them came a little horn (Antichrist), which grew exceedingly great toward the south, toward the east, and toward the glorious land. It grew great, even to the host of heaven. And some of the host and some of the stars it threw down to the ground and trampled on them. It became great, even as great as the Prince of the host
Daniel 8:8-11

HUNGARY DEFENDS BIBLICAL PRINCIPLES AND HELPS THE PERSECUTED

In Hungary preserving Christian values is a government priority, and helping persecuted Christians a moral obligation. “Hungary is a Christian nation,” Tristan Azbej told CBN News. He serves as State Secretary for the Aid of Persecuted Christians and to hear him talk about Hungary’s national dedication to Biblical principles, is a jaw-dropping experience. “We are trying to implement the social teachings of the Christian faith and the Bible in our policies and part of that is the protection of human dignity, human freedom, and the protection of the sanctity of family and marriage,” he said during an interview in Washington. “Christians are the most persecuted religious group in the world,” Azbej explains. “There are 340 million people who are discriminated or threatened or suffering genocidal attacks because of their faith in Christ,” he continues.

Azbej Tristan államtitkár fotó.jpg
State Secretary for the Aid of Persecuted Christians and  the Hungary Helps Program, Prime Minister’s Office
Vice President of the KDNP – Christian Democratic People’s Party

In 4 years Hungary has supported a quarter-million persecuted Christians, helped reconstruct 67 churches in Lebanon, and completely rebuilt the Christian town of Telskuf in Iraq after it was decimated by ISIS. “900 buildings were damaged. The church was used for target practice by the jihadis,” he explains. Of the 1300 Christian families who fled, 1,000 have returned. Hungary’s approach is simple. Azbej and his team travel to where Christians are hurting and ask to help. Their reception is universal. “They are truly shocked in the good sense that there is someone in the world who is actually caring about their faith.” In the last few months, he’s visited seven countries on four continents. “The fact that someone from the western world is actually asking this question, is important and empowering,” he says.

We caught up with Azbej at the International Religious Freedom Summit held in Washington, where in the future, Azbej hopes more governments follow Hungary’s lead to help the persecuted. Increasingly Hungary faces scrutiny over its traditional values from the European Union and LGBT activists. Tensions flared this summer when Hungary’s parliament passed a law to protect children from exposure to inappropriate sexual, including homosexual content, and to preserve the rights of Hungarian parents to retain sole control over their children’s sexual education. The executive branch of the European Union launched legal action over the law, saying it discriminates against LGBT people. The European Union has given Hungary two months to respond.

“We are seeing a very strong lobby in the European Union to push gender ideology through the European Union directives and the legislation and that’s such a strong initiative that eventually it will be mandatory to be implemented in the member states of the European Union so we have made this measure to protect our whole legal system from that lobby that is completely, completely alien and foreign from the values of the Hungarian people,” Azbej says. His nation’s constitution, adopted in 2011, is consistent with Christian teachings. “We have confirmed in our constitution that the marriage is between one man and one woman, that life has to be protected from conception.” And recently Hungary amended it to confirm a mother is a woman and a father is a man. “This seems to be a strange thing that this is needed to be put in a constitution,” he says.

Beyond the politics, Azbej says through his job, he’s received so much more than he’s given. “I have been meeting with true heroes of the faith in the persecuted Christian communities and I have gained such a strength from their testimonies, even despite all the threats and humiliation they are facing” he says. “So maybe it’s not us western Christians supporting the persecuted brothers and sisters in the Middle East and Africa, they are supporting us. They have a message to keep our faith, to keep our identity in Christ,” he continues. It’s a message Hungary is taking to heart. As Azbej shows the love of Jesus to his nation’s Christian brothers and sisters suffering around the world. “In our department, we never had any motivational problems because all my colleagues are fully understanding the importance of this mission,” he says.

Source CBN

PERSECUTION OF CHRISTIANS IN THE LAST DAYS

Christians are the eye of the target and they are coming after them,” warned Dede Laugesen with Save the Persecuted Christians. The numbers are staggering. Leading human rights groups say what’s going on in Nigeria is a genocide. “Over the last 20 years, there have been massive attacks against Christians,” Jeff King, president of International Christian Concern (ICC) said. “50 to 70 thousand have been murdered.” For years, the main terror group was Boko Haram, which seeks to overthrow the government and create an Islamic state. “They go after Christians and moderate Muslims, they push a hard-line Muslim agenda and it is their intention to establish a caliphate and to rid all of Nigeria and West Africa of any Western influence whatsoever,” Laugesen said. Now, there’s a new actor on the scene.

Support your Christian brothers and sisters in Nigeria

In Nigeria’s “Middle Belt” region, where the Muslim North meets the Christian South a terror group made up of Muslim Fulani herders are killing thousands of Christians. More than 1,400 Christians were hacked to death in just the first seven months of 2020 by Fulani herders.

Nigeria’s Muslim president has so far done very little to stop the bloodshed. His police and army are also mostly Muslims. “The attackers are never captured, they are not prosecuted, the security services respond very slowly, a full day can go on with attacks happening and no security shows up and frequently the government officials will provide cover,” explained Laugesen.

Read what Jesus said we can expect in the “end times” before He returns to earth to rule and reign with a rod of iron. We need to start living our lives with an eternal focus now.

But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name’s sake. This will be your opportunity to bear witness. Settle it therefore in your minds not to meditate beforehand how to answer, for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and some of you they will put to death. You will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance, you will gain your lives.Luke 21:12-17

And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.Matthew 10:28

PREFER AWAKENING TO JESUS OVER FREEDOM

“I would rather see millions of [Iranians] come to Jesus than have freedom and democracy. If freedom was such a great thing for the Kingdom, then why is America and Europe in the state it is now?” —Leader in the Iranian underground church

This is why the West will see more persecution before Jesus returns. God wants more people to start living there life in the light of eternity not for a better life here.

Listen to this video and learn from Iranian Christians on how to live life.

LAST DAYS PERSECUTION OF CHRISTIANS IS ESCALATING

GOD”S WORD TELLS US CHRISTIANS WILL BE PERSECUTED IN THE LAST DAYS

If you are being used by God to bring many to Christ then you can expect to be the focus of Satan’s minions to stop you and discredit your efforts.

What has happened to Torben Sondergaad of The Last Reformation movement is stark evidence of the extent of the persecution coming our way. You need to watch this video. The following short summary by Torben should get your attention.

I have waited many months to share this with you. This is somehow the hardest and most emotional video I have ever done. But it is also a big relief to finally get this out. Yes, we are seeking Asylum in America, and I would like to share some of the crazy things that have happened in the last six months. We have experienced a crazy and organised persecution from many sides – a persecution that ended up with us leaving Denmark with 8 suitcases, in order to not go to jail, or lose our kids. Later, even going through a spiritual battle like never before, ending up in a hospital, thinking I was going to die. But it has also been a time with fasting and a closeness to Christ that I have never experienced before… How God has come to us, again and again, when we couldn’t take any more… How a man I didn’t know gave me a lot of money in an airport, and how we saw very strong miracles!

CHURCH IN EGYPT GROWS DESPITE JIHADIST SLAUGHTER

“The mood is very, very good amongst Christians who are living in Egypt. Not because the situation is good or bad—that is not the reason,” Sameh Hanna, pastor of an evangelical church in Cairo, told Premier. “We have two kinds of news—earthly news, which is very ugly, very discouraging and I think in the West, you get only the earthly news—a bombing here or there.” “But there is heavenly news,” added Hanna. “We know what is going on spiritually. We see things that not everybody is seeing. We see things you are not hearing. We see the multitude coming to the knowledge of Christ from every background, so this brings joy to us.”

Egypt has the largest Christian community in the Middle East. Officially, Coptic Christians comprise about 10 percent of Egypt’s 96 million population. About one million are members of the evangelical community. According to Open Doors, Christians are facing “unprecedented” levels of persecution.

Egyptian Christians shout slogans as ambulances transport the bodies of victims killed in the bombing of Cairo's main Coptic cathedral after the funeral.

Egyptian Christians shout slogans as ambulances transport the bodies of victims killed in the bombing of Cairo’s main Coptic cathedral. (REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh)

“The rise of radical Islamist groups has only exacerbated Christian persecution, affecting believers in their villages, neighborhoods and workplaces,” said Open Doors on its website.

Each year, Open Doors publishes a list of countries where it is most difficult to live as a Christian. Egypt ranked 17th on this year’s list.

“Believers from a Muslim background, as in many countries, bear the brunt of persecution, often from their families who may punish them for abandoning the Islamic faith,” said Open Doors in a statement. “However, the Coptic church, which in the past has been tolerated because of its size and historical presence, is now being targeted, too.”

Some experts say that since Egypt’s president Abdel-Fattah el Sisi came to power in 2014, the conditions for Coptic Christians have improved.

“He has done some things that no leader in Egypt has ever done in all 1,400 years of Islamic rule in Egypt,” claimed Dr. Michael Youssef, founder of Leading the Way ministry. Michael Youssef and several other prominent American evangelical leaders met with Egypt’s president last year in what was described by some attendees as a historic  meeting.

“He [Sisi] has warmed up to Christians,” Youssef told CBN News. “He has appeared for Christmas celebrations at the Coptic Cathedral and in every way, he has reached out to the Christian community.”

Earlier this year, Sisi told Coptic Christians that Egypt would prevail over Islamic extremism. “You are our family, you are from us, we are one and no one will divide us,” the president said.

Four Islamic jihadists were killed on Sunday in Egypt’s Sinai peninsula as part of the government’s ongoing campaign to rid the region of terrorists. In addition to targeting Egyptian soldiers, police officers and civilians.  jihadists have also killed scores of Christians in church bombings and shootings.

Facing little contest, president Sisi won a second term in office this month after winning 97 percent of the vote in a presidential contest. Many Coptic Christians, who remember what life was like under the Muslim Brotherhood,  voted for him.

Youssef told CBN News that he believes Sisi is the best man to rule Egypt at the moment. “He literally is trying to break down all these barriers that were created through the years,” said Youssef, author of the new book, The Hidden Enemy. “I really believe he is God’s man, God raised him up {because} people will say that if it wasn’t for Sisi, you would have had 15 million Christian refugees from Egypt and they look at the neighbouring countries and they would say, ‘Thank God for Sisi’ and the Christians particularly are very grateful.”

extract from article in Charisma Magazine by George Thomas/CBN News