It’s becoming a habit: arresting Christians over the Christmas holiday season. It happened in 2010 (over 70 arrests, mainly in Tehran); it happened in 2011 (the whole congregation in Ahvaz, plus children); and it’s just happened for Christmas 2012.
As well as re-arresting the now famous Youcef Naderkhani, who has twice faced the death sentence for apostasy on Christmas day itself, the authorities also raided a private home in the north of Tehran on December 27th where about fifty believers were celebrating Christmas. Rev. Vruir Avanessian was arrested, and the rest were made to fill out detailed forms and told that they would be contacted in the near future. On December 31st, 2012, two more followers of Jesus from Youcef Naderkhani’s group were also arrested.
There was immediate concern throughout the Iranian church for the much loved Rev. Vruir Avanessian whose ministry in music and singing has touched thousands of Iranians around the world. Rev Avanessian’s now over sixty has serious health issues and needs regular dialysis treatment for his kidneys.
Rev. Avanessian, Youcef Nadarkhani, and the other two imprisoned over the Christmas period join about twelve other believers who are in prison. So Christmas has again brought suffering to the Iranian church, but there has also been growth. In one special evangelistic meeting (outside the country), over three hundred came to a special meeting where the Gospel was clearly preached. About thirty stood to give their hearts to Christ.
• Christians in prison
• Health of Rev. Avanessian
• Protection of the fifty who were interrogated