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Mohammad-Hadi Bordbar
Photo: Mohabat News

Mohammad-Hadi (Mostafa) Bordbar, a Christian convert, was recently sentenced to five years in prison for membership in a so-called "anti-security organization" and an additional five years for gathering with intent to commit crimes against Iranian national security. The ruling was delivered to Mostafa's lawyer on July 31st, 2013.

The incident surrounding his arrest took place in December of 2012 during the Christmas holidays. Mostafa and about 50 other Farsi-speaking Christian converts had gathered in a home located in northern Tehran to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ and worship together when 15 plain-clothes security officers raided the home and interrogated all those in attendance. The incident also led to the arrest of the Iranian-Armenian pastor, Vruir Avanessian. (For more information, click here.)

This is the second incident concerning Mostafa. Back in 2009, he was arrested for converting to Christianity and attending a house church. Although he was released after posting bail, the apostasy conviction remained in his criminal record. His lawyer, Shima Ghousheh, a member of the Iranian Human Rights Commission, stated that she is now working on an appeal to submit to the court.

While the Iranian Constitution recognizes the rights of religious minorities, including Christians, the Islamic regime of Iran prosecutes those who convert to Christianity from Islam. Persecution of Iranian Christian converts has been considerably on the rise since 2012. Many pastors and Christian activists have been arrested in recent years and given lengthy prison sentences as the number of Christian converts continues to increase and the network of underground house churches spreads at a rapid rate. To learn more about this, go to the Iran Country Report.

While we can be so very thankful for the fact that the underground church in Iran is growing and thriving, the consequences of converting to Christianity are harsh and extreme. Let us pray that the government's new leadership will realize that the intent of Christians is not to undermine the country's national unity but rather to enhance it through the practise of Godly principles and the teachings of Jesus. May imprisoned believers like Mustafa, and spiritual leaders such as Pastor Vruir, be granted favour and ultimately freedom as a result.