Date: January 24, 2014
Sources: Mohabat News, Release International, Christian Solidarity Worldwide
Davoud Alijani, an Iranian believer imprisoned along with four other Christians in December of 2011, was released on January 13th after spending more than 250 days in jail. Davoud had been charged with converting from Islam to Christianity. (For more information about his arrest, please visit www.persecution.net/ir-2013-12-19.htm.)
Pastor Farhad Sabokrouh and Naser Zamen-Dezfuli, who were imprisoned along with Davoud, were earlier released from custody in December 2013. At last report, the fourth Christian, Pastor Farhad's wife Shahnaz Jayzan, remained imprisoned. However, unconfirmed reports indicate that she will be released in the next several days.
Meanwhile, January 16th marked the third anniversary of the trial of Behnam Irani, 43, a house church leader imprisoned for "offences against national security." Contacts report that Pastor Behnam is being held in appalling conditions at Ghezal Hesar prison and that he is seriously ill. His medical conditions, for which he has received inadequate treatment, include a bleeding ulcer and a herniated disc. He has also been beaten and tortured by prison officials. His family is concerned that he may die in prison. (To learn more about his imprisonment, go to www.persecution.net/ir-2013-10-17.htm.)
In a letter Behnam wrote in prison, he shared: "In jail I have attained new experiences about love. Here, I live with cellmates of whom it is hard to see anything positive in their lives and personalities. They don't think about anything but negative values, abhorrent acts, learning new experiences in crimes and nasty literature. I look at them and whisper to myself, 'Do they really deserve prayers and intercessions?' Immediately, I remember that Jesus Christ was sacrificed for their sins too. 'He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world’ (1 John 2:2)."
While imprisoned, Pastor Behnam's family is facing scrutiny by authorities. On December 15th, 2013, security forces raided the home of his wife Kristina, as well as the homes of three other Christians. Authorities confiscated Bibles and other Christian materials, as well as Kristina's laptop.
Thank the Lord for answered prayer in the release of Davoud, Farhad and Naser. May Shahnaz's release soon follow! Ask the Lord to help them recover from the emotional and physical ordeals they have suffered. Pray that He will make His presence known to Pastor Behnam during this time of great need, giving His faithful servant strength, healing and grace for each new day. Please also remember Pastor Behnam's dear wife Kristina in prayer, along with their two young children, Rebecca and Adriel. May God comfort them through the outpouring of love they receive from fellow Christians, as well as through the promises of His Holy Word (Psalm 119:49-56). Let us also bring the officials and authorities involved with Behnam's case to the Lord, asking Him to work mightily in their hearts so they may extend His justice and compassion.
Raise a voice for Pastor Behnam! To send a letter calling for his release to the Head of the Judiciary in Iran, please visit our sister mission's website at www.releaseinternational.org/campaigns/release-benham-irani.