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Churches ordered to stop holding services in Iranian national language

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Churches ordered to stop holding services in Iranian national language

Country/Region: Iran, Middle East and North Africa

Two Tehran churches have been ordered to stop holding services in Farsi on Fridays in an apparent bid to prevent Muslims from hearing the Gospel in their own language.

The pastors of Emmanuel Protestant Church and St Peter Evangelical Church were issued with the order by the Ministry of Intelligence and Security earlier this month and announced it to their congregations on 10 February.

Iranian-Christians-worship-4X3.jpg
Iranian Christians at worship

The order was not applied to Sundays, but Friday is the main weekend-day in Iran, and it is difficult for people to attend church on any other day because of work commitments.

The two churches are among the small number of officially registered churches that principally serve the Armenian and Assyrian communities of Iran. Most of their activities are conducted in the Armenian and Assyrian languages. But Farsi is the language of the Muslim majority in Iran.

Middle East Concern said that the order to stop Farsi services was consistent with the authorities’ policy of restricting Christian activities to these traditional communities. It is illegal to conduct church services and Bible studies in Farsi, which prevents Muslims from hearing the Gospel and converts from Islam from worshipping in their own language.

Individuals targeted

Individual members of the two churches have also been targeted; some have lost their jobs after the authorities put pressure on their employers.

In a separate case, Maasis Mosesian, an elder of the Assemblies of God church in Tehran, was arrested in a raid on his workplace by state security agents on 8 February. No reason has been given for the arrest of the married father of two, whose family have not been allowed to see him.

The Iranian authorities are also continuing their campaign against the country’s growing house church movement. On 8 February, a house church in Shiraz was raided by security officers; they searched the premises, confiscated Bibles and arrested at least seven Christian converts. Their homes were also searched, and items including Gospels, Christian books, CDs, computers, faxes and satellite TV receivers were seized.

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  • Praise God for the release of John Short, an Australian missionary who was detained in North Korea for distributing Christian leaflets. John, who is 75 and based in Hong Kong, was reported to security officials in Pyongyang after he was spotted leaving a Christian leaflet at a Buddhist temple, an act that is illegal in North Korea. Further Korean-language Christian pamphlets were subsequently found in his hotel room. John, who was released on 3 March after two weeks in custody, was required to sign a confession probably scripted by the authorities. Other foreign missionaries arrested in North Korea have been given long prison sentences. Give thanks to God that John has escaped further punishment, and pray for him as he recovers from his traumatic ordeal. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed 12 hours ago

  • Pray for Barnabas Fund partners in South Sudan who have been supporting Christians forced from their homes by violence. Conflict between supporters of President Salva Kiir and his sacked deputy Riek Machar in December and January displaced around 860,000 people. Churches were burned down and a number of pastors killed, while many people lost their belongings and were left destitute. Give thanks that churches in and around the capital, Juba, were able to provide food and other essentials to many families with help from Barnabas. Pray that they may continue to be salt and light in their country at this unstable time (Matthew 5:13-16), and that it will soon be safe for displaced Christians to return home. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Wed, Apr 2014 00:00

  • Pray for the residents of a mainly Christian village in Borno state, Northern Nigeria, in the aftermath of a horrific attack by Boko Haram militants on 15 February. Ask for God’s comfort for the relatives and friends of the 106 people in Izghe who were gunned down and slaughtered in their houses or in the open as they tried to flee. Pray for strength for the numerous residents who were wounded or whose properties were looted and torched. Pray too for the many Christians who fled into the neighbouring state after the attack, and ask that the Christian community in the North of Nigeria will be preserved in the face of Islamist violence. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Tue, Apr 2014 00:00

  • Violent attacks by militants from the Islamist group Boko Haram continue unabated in Northern Nigeria. On one horrendous day of violence on 26 January, at least 138 people were killed. A church in Wada Chakawa village in Adamawa state was targeted; the attackers locked the congregation inside and then detonated bombs, shooting and cutting the throats of people who tried to escape. They then went on a four-hour rampage in the village. Later the same day, Kawuri village in neighbouring Borno state was burned to the ground. Boko Haram is fighting to establish an Islamic state, and Christians are among its main targets. Pray that the Nigerian authorities will succeed in containing its insurgency. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Mon, Apr 2014 00:00

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