By Gabriel J. Waddell
Special to ASSIST News Service
IRAN (ANS) -- The stories of Christians in Iran over the past couple of months sounds like a modern-day rendition of the Apostle Paul's sufferings for the cause of Christ. While the Apostle recounted his stories of beatings, shipwreck, and stonings, these believers in Iran can list harsh prisons, beatings, sleep deprivation, and even exposure to loathsome diseases. The methods of tyrants have changed, but the reality of persecution is the same.
Much has happened in the world since Pastor Behrouz Sadegh-Khandjani was arrested, imprisoned (see previous story at: http://www.assistnews.net/Stories/2010/s10010194.htm ), and eventually, by the grace and working of God, released from prison. The election riots in Iran have died down.
No longer is Iran a leading story on every major news outlet, or a regularly trending topic on Twitter. The images of people passionately defending their freedom in the face of tyranny have faded from the forefront of our collective consciousness. The fickle eyes of the world have moved elsewhere, allowing the dictators that be to crack down on those that they feel are threats to their power.
Protests in Iran
But what is amazing is the dictator's choice of targets. Pastor Behrouz is one such example. This humble pastor was such a priority target that the Secret Service felt it necessary to conjure up a complicated plan for his arrest, and then place him in a gruesome prison cell. Details of his imprisonment came out only after his release – how, for instance, he was purposely placed in a cell with prisoners who had hepatitis and AIDS, in the hopes that he would contract these horrible diseases. Even having been released, he faces intense surveillance, has been forbidden to leave Iran, and is under the constant threat of further arrest.
But other examples abound. Pastor Behnam, leader of a flock in an Iranian city, was such a priority that the Secret Service contacted members of his church and put pressure on them to file complaints against their pastor. Based on this contrived evidence, he has been not only imprisoned, but tortured as well, and remains in a very poor health situation in a dank prison.
Brother Youcef, a pastor in another city, was imprisoned because he refused to accept Koranic teaching for his children. For simply striving to raise his family in the “nurture and admonition of the Lord,” he has been imprisoned now for almost 10 months.
The names could go on and on, these humble men and their impoverished flocks of outcast Christians. They have no ambitions to undermine the government, no spy networks or advocacy groups, no high-powered action campaigns or worldwide news outlets. And yet, they are regarded as public enemies of the highest order, simply for following Jesus Christ.
Perhaps that is because they have the one thing carnal dictators must fear: the power of Almighty God. These Christians may not be the ones that the world sees as “great,” but in the eyes of our Father, they are warriors of the highest valor – because they are servants of the humblest degree.
Fatemeh “Tina” Pasandideh, the wife of pastor Youcef Nadarkani has been arrested in Rasht, Iran Their two children are with a relative now. She was arrested in order to put further pressure on brother Youcef. Below is a picture of the family.
.The situation is very grave, but our God is more than able to deliver them.
Please pray for them!
Gabriel J. Waddell has had the privilege of meeting and ministering to persecuted Christians throughout Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. He sits on the Board of Directors of Remember (www.RememberThose.org), an international non-profit dedicated to meeting the needs of widows and orphans of Christian martyrs. Gabriel is an attorney specializing in bankruptcy and debt relief issues, and lives with his wife in Fresno, California. You can keep up-to-date on persecuted church news by following Gabriel on Twitter@gabewaddell (www.twitter.com/gabewaddell ). His e-mail address is: firstname.lastname@example.org