Chris Welch uses Designer Pro 365 to illustrate all 3rd level concepts

Friday, 7 October 2011

Iran :Only Truth stands on its own. If you have to beat and torture innocents to root out opposition....


Iran 
Only Truth stands on its own. If you have to beat and torture innocents to 
root out opposition, then you need to seriously question your holy book, take a step back, and relearn what it is to be human. (Chris Welch)

A postal release from www.releaseinternational.org  - (back copies of Release magazine)
Please show your compassion and support
for Christians facing intense repression in Iran


'Alireza' (not his real name) is 23 and was a member of a house church in Karaj, about 25km from Tehran.
In September 2010 he was arrested, severely beaten and tortured. His story shows how severely Christians are treated by the Islamic regime and why we need your help to encourage and support them.
Alireza's story
While he was at work one day, security officers searched his home and discovered Christian books, Bibles, and a satellite dish. They told his wife to tell him to surrender to the authorities. Alireza saw that his house was under surveillance, so he turned and did not go home for two days. But after speaking with his wife, he presented himself to the police.
"I entered an office and met a man who asked me to remain seated as he left the room. Shortly after, another man came in and pulled a bag over my head and led me to a different room. Here was a man who seemed to be in charge of interrogations. He knew a lot about Christianity and the church movement in Iran.
"He asked me to tell him which house church I belonged to and to identify its members and leaders, and which foreign Christian organisations I am affiliated with. When he realized I was [not] giving him the information he wanted, he told me I would be kept as long as necessary to get it. Next, he hooded me again and took me to a very small prison-like cell. Men came in and poured cold water over me several times. I was totally disoriented and lost my awareness of place and time.
"A few hours later they took me back for further questioning. This time if my answers were unsatisfactory, he would kick my legs and feet. Once in a while, he called someone to beat me up. I could not defend or protect myself because my hands were tied at the back to the chair."
Tortured for his faith
Alireza was repeatedly interrogated. On several occasions, he
was handcuffed and hung from a hook. They would insult him, his family, his faith, Christianity, Christ, and then start whipping him with a cable or a water hose. Whenever he agreed to confess, they would bring him down and resume the questions regarding the house church and his affiliation with foreign Christian organisations.
"Every time my answers did not satisfy them, they would start !heating me with a cable cord or a hose — so much so that I would pass out. Then they would pour water on me and as soon as I came to, they would resume their tortures."
Freedom and escape
After three days of torture, his family found someone to post bail. He was released on condition that he would not go to hospital until his case was reviewed by a revolutionary court. "They told me that if I talked about my interrogation or torture or continued my Christian activities, I would face consequences such as being killed in an apparent car accident; or my family would find my body in a field with no evident cause of death."
Alireza left Iran several weeks later and his family joined him a little while afterwards. They lost everything as a result of their faith. Please pray that they will recover from their ordeal.






Pastor  Vahik Abrahamian

Pastor Vahik Abrahamian, with his wife Sonia and their friends Arash Kermanjani and his wife Arezo, was arrested in Hamadan on September 4, last year, on charges of propagating Christianity. For the first 40 days they were held in solitary confinement and suffered physical and psychological abuse. Then they were transferred to Evin prison (See factbox opposite).
Sonia, Arash and Arezo were finally released on April 30 after 239 days in detention, during which time Sonia suffered a miscarriage. He had previously been arrested and imprisoned on February 20, 2010, and was released only after he had spent 53 days in prison. It is clear that he is being targeted because Vahik and Sonia lead a cluster of house churches in seven cities.
We're delighted to let you know that while this letter was in production, Pastor Vahik was finally released. But there are other Christians still in prison, so do please pray earnestly for them. Please read on to see how you can encourage Christians in Iran.
Thirst for change
Dissatisfaction with the repressive regime led to massive demonstrations in several cities after the presidential elections in 2009, supposedly won by President Ahmadinejad with a landslide victory. But the EU, UK, US and several European countries expressed concern over election irregularities, and many analysts and journalists voiced doubts about the authenticity of the results. Supporters of opposition candidate and former Prime Minister Mir-Hossein Mousavi repeatedly filled the streets in mainly peaceful protest.








"l will stop Christianity"
The massive desire for political change seems to be mirrored by a spiritual yearning that has seen many Muslims becoming Christians, despite the severe penalties for doing so. Since the Revolution in 1979, more and more Iranians have become disillusioned with Islam. The authorities are worried by the growth of the Church, which challenges and affronts the image of Iran as a model Islamic state. President Ahmadinejad has declared that the Government will put a stop to the burgeoning house church movement. "I will stop Christianity in this country," he has stated.
Christian news channel
One of our Iranian
partners, the Farsi
Christian News
Network (FCNN), says
that in December
2010 the authorities
launched a fresh crackdown on Christians, and during the past 12 months about 300 have been arrested. Among them were Mustafa Shokrollahi and Khalil Yarali. They were released on $50,000 bail, but the hearing they face may sentence them to imprisonment in Evin. (The date of the hearing is unknown at the time of writing.)


Christian Broadcasting
Yet despite the crackdown, more and more Iranians are turning to Christ. Another of our partners broadcasts Christian TV programmes into Iran. It receives almost 10,000 calls each year, many asking about becoming a Christian, or asking a counsellor to pray with them for salvation. House church leaders are almost overwhelmed in caring for these new believers.
 Christian Resources
Other partners in our ministry to Christians in Iran support
networks of house churches in cities across the country. One provides support for more than 60 leaders and resources such as the Bible in Farsi, the Jesus film on DVD and teaching CDs.
But there is an increasing need for extra support for local house church network supervisors, and for resources.
Helping Iranians to be faithful  the face of persecution
It is vitally important that we support those who are helping Iranians to meet Christ and to become his faithful followers. So we are promoting the training of leaders and new Christians, so they become mature believers who can live as Christians in this repressive State.
Please help God's kingdom to advance in this country where there is so much spiritual hunger, where people not only meet Jesus through personal testimonies, the Jesus film, or supernatural dreams and visions, but remain faithful to him despite the risks or experience of being arrested and suffering for him.
If you have never made a donation to Release before may
I really  encourage you to do so now? Christians in Iraq
face intense persecution so they really need our support
and encouragement !


Evin Prison - 
the Bastille of the revolution
In Iran, which executes more of its citizens than any nation except China, Evin prison is notorious. Its reputation is so terrible that its approach road has been nicknamed "the ramp of repentance". Behind its walls some prisoners languish for years awaiting trial. Some are beaten and tortured. Some die from their injuries during interrogation. Thieves have their hands amputated. Some prisoners are hanged and their bodies are left dangling from cranes. Some are executed by firing squad, sometimes by the dozen.

Incarceration in Evin is a terrible experience. Prisoners may be held in solitary confinement, or else in a cell designed for two but occupied by six. Many prisoners have no mattress, and have to sleep on their clothing.
The windows are covered by grilles that hide the sky. The prisoners receive inadequate medical attention, so if any develop a contagious condition, many others are soon also suffering from it. They are regularly subjected to rape and psychological and physical torture. Christian converts from Islam have been whipped with metal cables on their backs, chests and the soles of their feet.
It was here that Maryam Rustampoor and Marzieh Amirizadeh were held for 248 days in 2009 on the charge of 'apostasy' (converting to Christ from Islam). They were arrested on March 5 and released on November 18. Eight months in Evin! Their health suffered greatly, but they were understandably jubilant on their release. "Words are not enough to express our gratitude to the Lord and to His people who have prayed and worked
for our release," they said.


Incarceration in Evin is a terrible experience. Prisoners may be held in solitary confinement, or else in a cell designed for two but occupied by six. Many prisoners have no mattress, and have to sleep on their clothing.
The windows are covered by grilles that hide the sky. The prisoners receive inadequate medical attention, so if any develop a contagious condition, many others are soon also suffering from it. They are regularly subjected to rape and psychological and physical torture. Christian converts from Islam have been whipped with metal cables on their backs, chests and the soles of their feet.
It was here that Maryam Rustampoor and Marzieh Amirizadeh were held for 248 days in 2009 on the charge of 'apostasy' (converting to Christ from Islam). They were arrested on March 5 and released on November 18. Eight months in Evin! Their health suffered greatly, but they were understandably jubilant on their release. "Words are not enough to express our gratitude to the Lord and to His people who have prayed and worked for our release," they said.







Iran Information
Population:                           74.2 million
Capital:                           Tehran
Government:                           Theocratic republic
President:           Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Supreme Leader: Ali Hoseini-Khameini
Religion:           Muslim 96%; Zoroastrian 2.6%; Christian 0.58%; Other 0.82%
History
Iran, known as Persia before 1935, was one of the greatest empires of
the ancient world. It has maintained its distinctiveness
in the Islamic world by retaining its own language (Farsi, rather than Arabic) and adhering to the Shia interpretation of Islam.
Iran became a unique Islamic republic in 1979, when the monarchy was overthrown and ayatollahs (Islamic clerics) assumed control under supreme leader Ayatollah Khomeini. The Iranian revolution ended the rule of the Shah, who had alienated religious, political and popular forces with a programme of modernisation forced through by the heavy repression of opponents.
In 1980 Iraq invaded Iran, hoping to take advantage of the disruption of the Revolution. This began an eight-year war which left around half a million dead and many more wounded.
In 2002, President George W. Bush declared Iran part of an
"axis of evil" for its alleged support of international terrorism and repression. While President Obama has softened his tone, the US continues to accuse Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons.

Recent years have seen a growing appetite for political reform among the Iranian people. But the liberals' victory over the ultra-conservatives in the parliamentary elections of 2000 failed to bring any significant change for religious liberty. Freedom of religion other than for Shia Islam is limited, despite constitutional guarantees of religious liberty. Evangelising Muslims is banned and the penalty for apostasy (conversion from Islam) is death. The sentence is sometimes, though rarely, carried out.

Iran executes more of its people than any other nation except
China. In the first half of 2011, there were 190 executions. This is a significant increase on the number in previous 
years, and is considered to be a response to the "Arab Spring", to discourage any similar popular
uprising in Iran. Shirin Ebadi, the Iranian Nobel Peace Prize winner, says that the
regime is using criminal charges as a cover for political persecution.
Persecution
Christians make up about half of one per cent of the population. Christians who keep a low profile are able to practise their faith quietly, without too much interference. But pastors may find themselves under scrutiny and being monitored by the Ministry of Islamic Guidance, and most Christians are discriminated against in education, employment and property ownership. Christians from a Muslim background pay a particularly high price. Many Christians in Iran are Armenian or Assyrian so churches are often restricted to conducting services in their languages, which means that Christians from the Farsi-speaking majority are unable to participate in their services. Many churches have gone underground.
In 2007 the government ordered a crackdown on Christians. Hundreds were arrested and thousands of Bibles were confiscated. Two years later at least 85 were arrested, and in 2010 that number exceeded 300. Western mission agencies are forbidden entry into the country. Yet, despite all this, Iranians are continuing to come to Christ.

Release's work in Iran includes:
·  Training and mentoring pastors
·  Providing Christian literature
-  Offering emergency support for individuals and families who
are persecute-°"--'
·  Supporting follow-up work of an organisation broadcasting Christian programmes into the country.
The Azadi Tower is the symbol of Tehran
Sources: Amnesty International; BBC; International Christian Concern; Open Doors; Operation World; Release International; Statistical Centre, Government of Iran; The World Factbook 2010; World Christian Database.


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