Iran (MNN) — The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) reports that persecution of religious minorities in Iran has increased ever since the 2013 election of President Hassan Rouhani.
But, Open Doors USA says this hasn’t stopped the ministry of Christians.
“All Iranian people should feel there is justice,” Rouhani said before his election victory. “Justice means equal opportunity. All ethnicities, all religions, even religious minorities, must feel justice. Long live citizenship rights!”
Despite Rouhani’s promise to give minorities more rights, USCIRF stated over the last year there were a number of Iranian authorities raiding Christian church services and threatening, arresting, and imprisoning worshipers and church leaders.
“As of February 2015, approximately 90 Christians were either in prison, detained, or awaiting trial because of their religious beliefs and activities,” USCIRF said.
Much of the persecution is being directed toward Christian converts and house church leaders. “Some activists believe the assaults, which have been directed against converts who are leaders of underground house churches, are meant to intimidate others who may wish to convert to Christianity,” the commission said.
Open Doors shared the story of one woman, *Noushin, who was a convert, a house church leader, and was arrested for her faith.
“I wasn’t ready to go to prison,” she told Open Doors. “I knew it was a dirty place, a place where people are tortured and locked up in solitary confinement. I was afraid that I would be so fearful that I would give up all the names of the members of house church. I even feared that I would deny my faith if they tortured me.”
Just as she feared, she was arrested and forced into solitary confinement. But instead of rejecting God, she shared her faith–with the interrogator.
“It’s an honor for me to talk about Jesus,” Noushin had told him. “You also need Jesus in your life. I cannot be indifferent towards you. I want you to experience the joy and blessing of salvation. I can’t keep silent about this.”
After three days of being locked in solitary confinement, the interrogator came to her in the middle of the night to ask about the Gospel. “We talked about Jesus for hours until finally the interrogator gave his heart to Jesus. We prayed together.”
Just like Noushin, there are many Iranian Christians who are suffering for their faith, but they’re not giving up hope.
Open Doors is encouraging Noushin and other Christians in Iran to be brave and continue their ministry work, despite the suffering. Come alongside Open Doors to pray for and support believers in Iran to have strength in Jesus, to spread the Word to others, and for the persecution to subside.
*Name changed for security reasons.