The murder of an Iranian house church pastor last month was premeditated according to new details released by a persecution watchdog group.
The Voice of the Martyrs (VOM) released on Tuesday additional information from its contacts in Iran about the death of house-church pastor Ghorbandordi Tourani last month. According to a cell church leader in Iran who visited the Ghorban family earlier this month, the event leading to the pastors death occurred on Nov. 15 one week before his martyrdom.
On that day, Ghorban received a phone call from the head of the Turkmen religious leaders inviting him to attend a meeting to answer some of their questions about his faith.
The pastor was reportedly excited about the invitation, VOMs source stated, viewing it as an opportunity to share Jesus and the Gospel with the religious leaders.
Yet at the end of the meeting, the religious leaders said, We are well aware that your ancestors and your parents have been serious followers of Islam and you are supposed to be a committed Muslim too. Why have you turned to Christianity? We give you one more chance to deny your Christian faith and return to Islam.
According to VOMs source, Ghorban replied, I am not going to deny Jesus and return to Islam, and left the room.
One week following the meeting, on Nov. 22, Ghorban received another phone call from a man claiming to want to become a Christian.
Ghorban, the caller began, I was present in the meeting held last week and was so much touched by the testimony of your Christian faith. I would love to become a Christian. I dont want to come to your house so that no one can see me. Can you come to a park in the city so that I can see you and this way you can share with me more about Christianity?
No one showed up to meet the Iranian pastor, however, and when he returned home he saw a car with three men inside from the Turkmen sect called Vahabiyoun (a hard-line Islamic group of whom many people are afraid because they are terrorists), reported VOM.
Ghorban came closer to them when one of them called to him, and one man put a knife into his stomach and his intestines poured out on his hand. The second man stabbed Ghorban in the back and the third put the knife in his throat.
The men after killing Ghorban reportedly said, This is the punishment of those who become infidels and reject Islam.
According to VOM, some of the neighbors witnessed the murder but refused to acknowledge who killed the pastor out of fear.
However, Ghorbans wife, Afoul Achikeh, had become even more committed to Christ after her husbands murder, boldly declaring her Christian faith to everyone.
O people, remember that Ghorban is a Christian martyr who laid down his life for the sake of Christ, she said, according to VOM.
I now have realized how real Jesus and the Christian life was for Ghorban, that he was willing to give his life for His sake.
Ghorbans family has reportedly been under extreme pressure from his brothers to convert back to Islam, but Ghorbans wife and children have refused and have told them they will follow Jesus no matter what the cost.
Other difficulties faced by the martyrs family include interrogations by the police; initial refusal by Turkmen leaders to allow Ghorbans body to be buried near the cemetery of Muslims and Turkmen, who consider his body unclean; and denial to a religious ceremony for the house church pastor. After pressure from Ghorbans brother, the Iranian Christian was allowed burial in the corner of the cemetery far away from the bodies of the Muslims; he was buried as a rejected person.
The Ghorbans family has been greatly encouraged by the prayers of Christians all over the world. Iranian Christians hearing about the martyr believe that God will use Ghorbans death to bring about a great revival among Turkmen people.
Pray with them that God will bless the sacrifice of His faithful servant, VOM concluded.