For persecuted Christians in Iran, context matters

By July 15, 2019

Iran (MNN) — Pressure is building in Iran as yet another group of believers pay for claiming the name of Christ. According to Miles Windsor of Middle East Concern, seven believers are in solitary confinement with no access to lawyers. You can read about it here.

In a separate incident, five men accused of “propaganda against the regime” began serving prison sentences on July 6. Their sentences range from four to 14 months.

“They have done nothing to undermine the state or spread propaganda against the state at all,” Windsor emphasizes. “They’re being imprisoned because of their faith in the Lord Jesus. That’s true of the many Christians who face these kinds of charges.

“It’s really important to be praying for our brothers and sisters [in Iran] to be strong in what is a very, very difficult context.”

The situation isn’t just difficult, it’s often complex. However, understanding the multifaceted circumstances helps you pray effectively. It can also help you pray through the headlines.

Why does context matter?

At a Christians United for Israel event last week, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo condemned Iran’s abuse, calling Evin Prison “a regime dungeon.” In the same speech, Pompeo discussed a plan for continued U.S. pressure on Iran to abandon its nuclear program.

This “high-level” attention to the plight of Iranian Christians is definitely a good thing, Windsor says. However, he also urges caution when connecting persecuted believers to topics like nuclear development, the U.S., and Israel. That type of association could do more harm than good.

“It’s important that we’re holding Iran to account on the persecution of Christians… But, [it’s] also [important] that we’re not serving the false narrative about these Christians being Western spies and enemies of the state.”

The antagonism between Iran and Israel and between Iran and the U.S. is no secret. Even though Christianity originated in the Middle East, Iranian officials view it as a “western” religion. Therefore, converts to Christianity automatically become “guilty by association” – there is an assumed connection, even if believers have no ties to Israel or the U.S.

(Screenshot of Prayercast | Iran)

“So, I think prayer for continued determination by our governments [is important], but also great sensitivity, nuance, and wisdom given the potential for harm in spite of best intentions,” Windsor says.

Now that you know, will you pray? Pray for believers within Iran – increased scrutiny makes it difficult for them to meet in underground house churches. Surround the persecuted believers mentioned earlier in this article in prayer. Ask God to uphold those detained and help them respond wisely during interrogations.

Finally, pray for heads of state and high-level decision-makers. Ask the Lord to give them wisdom and sensitivity.



Header image courtesy of Article 18 via Middle East Concern.

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