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Pastor Behnam Irani

Three Christian men -- Behnam Irani, Matthias Haghnejad and Silas Rabbani -- were recently handed six-year prison sentences. These believers had earlier been accused of capital offenses, but thankfully those charges were later dropped. (For more information on the capital charges, visit this page.)

This latest verdict dictates that Pastor Behnam will serve his sentence at a prison in the northern city of Zabol, while Pastor Matthias and Silas (a deacon) will be transferred to a prison in Minab which is located by the Persian Gulf. All three are appealing their sentences. The cities of Zabol and Minab are infamous for their extremely hot climates. Moreover, the prisoners' families will be forced to travel long distances for visits, which will prove to be both financially and physically challenging.

According to religious liberty advocates, these sentences are the latest examples of the surge in oppression against religious and ethnic minorities under the Rouhani presidency. This repression has occurred despite his earlier promise to uphold the rights of religious minorities during the run up to elections last year.

While thanking God that the capital punishment charges against these three men have been dropped, let us ask Him to now be very near to these dear brothers in Christ as they each face six-year sentences. In particular, pray that they will not despair, but would continue in their faith -- established and firm -- remaining grounded in the hope of the Gospel (Colossians 1:23). May their appeals be swift and successful so that they will soon be released to their families! Until then, ask God to meet their loved ones' every need, as they now face new challenges in caring for these imprisoned men due to the extended distance of the other prison locations. Additionally, intercede on behalf of Iran's leaders and authorities, praying that many of them will come to know Christ as their Lord and Saviour.

Current Ministry Fund

By funding television broadcasts, VOMC is making it possible for a vast audience of viewers to be reached throughout Iran with the "Good News" of Jesus' love via satellite. VOMC is also working with partners to provide the Theology of Persecution course in Farsi to train Iranian believers to provide a proper theological perspective and understanding of persecution from a Biblical point of view.

Project Fund: Underground Church

Country Information


85,888,910 (July 2021 est.)

Persian, Azeri, Kurd, Lur, Baloch, Arab, Turkmen and Turkic tribes

Religion (%)
Islam (99.4), other, including Christian (0.3), Unspecified (0.3)

President Ebrahim Raisi (2021)

Government type
Theocratic republic

Legal system
Religious legal system based on secular and Islamic law

Source: CIA World Factbook

Pray for Iran

As the Gospel message goes forth over the airwaves, may the growth of the church continue to multiply despite persecution. Pray that the Iranian government will be open to change, allowing full rights and protection for its non-Muslim citizens as well. In the meantime, may those who are forced to flee the country find safe refuge and help so they can live in peace and worship the Lord with freedom.


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Iran News

  • Prisoner Located and Since Released on Bail
    Ayoub Poor-Rezazade - Photo: Middle East Concern
    Ayoub Poor-Rezazade
    Photo: Middle East Concern

    In the Persecution & Prayer Alert that VOMC published on September 30th, it was reported that three Christians had been arrested while attending a prayer meeting in Rasht, Iran, on September 5th. The report had mentioned that two of the believers were r

  • Arrests of Christian Converts During Prayer Meeting
    Morteza Mashhoudkari, Ahmad Sarparast, Ayoub Poor-Rezazade - Photo: Middle East Concern www.meconcern.org
    Morteza, Ahmad and Ayoub
    Photo: Middle East Concern

    Three Christian converts were arrested while attending a prayer meeting in the Iranian coastal city of Rasht on September 5th. Intelligence agents raided the meeting and took Morteza Mashhoudkari, Ayoub Poor-Rezazade and Ahmad Sarparast for interro

  • Proposed Law Leads to Concerns
    Underground house church - Photo: VOM USA
    Pray for creative solutions as Iranian believers spread the Gospel.
    Photo: VOM USA

    Finding encouragement in the Christian faith can be especially difficult in a country like Iran, where tight government controls prevent followers of Christ from meeting together. In recent years, modern technology cr

  • Presidential Election Brings Concerns
    Ebrahim Raisi
    President Ebrahim Raisi
    Photo: Mehr News Agency (cc)

    The recent election of Ebrahim Raisi as president of Iran has led to concerns for those monitoring religious freedom in the country. The election has been discredited by many since reformers or moderates were banned from running for the position