Iranians turning to Christ, not nukes

By May 4, 2010

USA (MNN) — Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is rejecting allegations that his country is developing nuclear weapons, citing "not a single credible proof." He also condemned the continued possession of them by the United States and others.

He spoke Monday at the start of a month-long conference reviewing the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

While talk of nuclear weapons continues, the Iranian people are talking about Christ. Todd Nettleton with Voice of the Martyrs says, "The church in Iran is growing remarkably quickly — so fast that it is hugely concerning the government there."

It's reminiscent of the Islamic Revolution. Nettleton says, "You will remember that it was powered by university students who were disaffected. What you have now is literally thousands of university students who are disaffected. Many of them are choosing to follow Christ. So the government sees that as a direct threat."

That's putting pressure on the government, and many believers are being arrested. 19-year-old Daniel Shahri was just one of those taken into custody. According to the Farsi Christian Network News, Daniel was arrested April 11 by the order of the local judicial court on the charges of "illegal internet activities" and leading home-based churches.

However, there is good news. Shahri, who lives in the city of Isfahan, has been released after posting appropriate bail.

Shahri has indicated he was arrested on the charges of publishing falsities and insult to Islamic faith. Those charges have since been dropped, but other charges such as"propagation of the Christian faith" and "assisting in the formation and the continuation of home-based churches" coupled with "unauthorized internet activities" were introduced.

While Shahri is free on bond, Nettleton says it's not over for this young man. "What typically happens is that they don't drop the charges. They leave the file open. They can come back at any time later and re-arrest you."

Nettleton says the government holds those charges over a person's head to keep Christians from engaging in Christian activity.

Shahri was born into a Christian family. Thus, his Christian activities have been in the context of a Christian family and cannot be used as a basis for prosecuting him. There is hope that the court in Isfahan will consider this matter, clear all misunderstandings, and close this case once and for all.

In recent months, several reports indicate the ever increasing number of arrests and harsh treatment of Christians in the largest city of Iran. Even after two months, there is no credible news of the whereabouts and condition of a Christian couple, Hamid and Reyhaneh, along with several other Christians in Isfahan.

Voice of the Martyrs is helping the persecuted church. "We are helping the families of those who have been put in prison. We're also helping to supply the Iranian church with teaching and training material, Bibles, and other things to really support the church."

If you'd like to financially support VOM's work in Iran and other areas of the world, click here.

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