The dark shadow of arbitrary arrests and imprisonment still hangs over the church in Iran. There are at least 12 Iranian Christians in prison solely for their faith in Jesus Christ. Some like Mojtaba Kashavaz or Shahla Rahmati have been sentenced to three years in goal on the charge of ‘sacrilege’ or supporting evangelicals. Others, like Farshid Fathi-Malayeri, arrested on December 26th December 2010, are still awaiting their trial. There are another twenty-two or more Iranian Christians who have been released after paying an exorbitant bail and awaiting trial. Many others have left Iran with just their clothes on their backs to escape the persecution.
This Christmas will be particularly painful for all these believers as they reflect on what has happened. All of them would love to be living as normal witnessing Christians in the land of their birth. None of them sought confrontation with their government. They are truly suffering for their stand for Christ. And it is that suffering, in the mystery of God’s providence, which weaves it way round the story of the church’s growth this year.
• All those Christians still in prison.
• All those Christians released on bail awaiting their court case.
• All those Christians forced to leave the land they love.