Iran (MNN) — While Iran's proposed apostasy law is still waiting to be ratified, the Christian community received some good news. Two Muslim-background believers were released by authorities.
Glenn Penner with Voice of the Martyrs Canada (VOMC) says, "Both Mahmood Matin-Azad and Arash Basirat have been released from an Iranian prison, after they had met with a tribunal who had ruled that the charges against them were invalid."
While the charges were essentially apostasy, says Penner, "It had very much to do with what they called an' offense' to Islam and a diffusion of falsities; in other words, they were spreading lies."
We asked Penner if he thought the arrest of these men was a precursor to the new apostasy law. "It's hard to say. It is the first time that Christians have been released after a trial. On other occasions, typically Iranian converts are released after a few weeks or a few months in jail. You might say that's a positive sign."
Pressure by the European Union may have contributed to the release, but Penner says it's hard to say whether this is a good sign, or just a sign of appeasement.
Penner says this is a time of spiritual openness in Iran. "The young people, in particular, are open to hearing the Gospel, and there is a real deep disillusionment with Islam at this point."
VOMC is providing you an opportunity to help believers in Iran. Penner says, "We have been helping Christians in Iran over the years, particularly with Christian literature. So if people want to support our brothers and sisters in that way, certainly they could make a donation to what we call our Equipping the Saints fund."
In the meantime, pray that the apostasy legislation will fail as it awaits ratification. Penner is also asking you to, "Pray for church leaders that they won't be fearful at this time, that they'll continue to follow the Lord faithfully, and that people would be brought to Christ."