The American Center for Law and Justice has confirmed that Iranian authorities allowed Youcef Nadarkhani's family and local lawyers to visit him while in prison on April 11, which marked the evangelical Christian pastor's 35th birthday.
In addition to the date marking Nadarkhani's birthday, it was also the 913th day of imprisonment for the married father of two. The pastor was arrested in Oct. 2009 for protesting the mandatory teaching of Islam at his children's schools.
His charges were later changed to apostasy and attempting to evangelize Muslims, for which he was sentenced to death. more >>
While Christians around the world were celebrating Resurrection Sunday, 12 Iranian believers were defending themselves before a judge in the city of Rasht after being arrested for practicing their faith.
Jason DeMars, founder of Minnesota-based Present Truth Ministries, told The Christian Post on Thursday that the 12 believers are being charged with "crimes against the order" for activities like drinking alcohol while taking communion and holding illegal meetings. One part of PTM's mission is to support the persecuted church in the Middle East, and DeMars has stayed up to date on their situation by speaking with members of the Christian community in Iran.
Although they are not being charged with apostasy – a crime punishable by death in Iran – DeMars says the judge did call them "apostates" during the trial, and suggested in a recent blog post that it may have been a scare tactic used by the court. more >>
Christian mission organization Present Truth Ministries has planned an international fasting and prayer vigil for April 11, 2012, in honor of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani's 35th birthday. This is the third birthday Nadarkhani has spent in an Iranian prison for his Christian faith.
Jason DeMars, founder of Present Truth Ministries, has called on supporters to pray on April 11 for Nadarkhani's wisdom, strength, peace, and release from prison.
"The most powerful action we can take as Christians is to pray. The Bible says, 'The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.' We can use our voices to speak against this injustice, we can work with various advocacy groups and make political statements and we need to do that," DeMars told The Christian Post via email. more >>
The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) reported Monday that Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, although imprisoned in Iran, was able to see his son on the young boy's birthday.
Nadarkhani's son was able to visit his father in prison on April 2. This comes as a special treat for Nadarkhani as well, who will celebrate his 35th birthday after being imprisoned for for two and a half years.
"Not only does this mean that Pastor Youcef is still alive, but it is a precious reminder of what we are fighting for – freedom for a loving father, a devoted husband, a caring pastor, and a devout follower of Christ," commented the ACLJ in a press release. more >>
Despite the Iranian government's ongoing crackdown of Christians living in the primarily Islamic country, the number of Muslims converting to become Christians is growing at an explosive rate, according to the persecution watchdog group Open Doors USA.
There is even talk of witnessing a Christian revival, especially among young people living in the country, say Open Doors ministry workers in the Middle East.
A house church movement within Iran is part of that revival and has triggered "many secret meetings." The growth in the number of Christians is happening in all regions, but mostly in larger cities, say Open Doors workers in the region. more >>
In a rare crackdown on a concentrated area, Iranian authorities have arrested Christians living in the country's third largest city in what is seen as a tactic to discourage Muslims and converts to Christianity from attending official churches.
Since last month officials have arrested about 12 Christian converts in Isfahan, 340 kilometers (211 miles) south of Tehran. Authorities have arrested leaders and members of churches meeting in buildings, as well as some from underground churches, according to Mohabat News.
The targeted arrests started on Feb. 22, when intelligence officers arrested approximately seven Christians at their homes between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m., Mohabat reported. Authorities raided their homes and confiscated valuables, including Bibles, computers, identification and other documents, and in one case even pictures decorating walls. more >>