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Ebrahim & Maryam
Ebrahim & Maryam
Photo: Mohabat News

Maryam Zargaran - It was recently reported that Maryam's physical condition has worsened, and she is again in need of urgent medical care. The stressful conditions in prison have exacerbated a congenital heart condition which can reduce the blood's oxygen levels. According to a prison mate, Maryam is also suffering from severe weight loss. In protest of denied medical treatment for the long-standing health issues, she has been on a hunger strike several times.

Since being accused of running a house church in 2013, Maryam has been imprisoned in the women's ward of Evin Detention Centre. Her sentence was also extended to make up for time required to receive medical treatment outside prison. The young woman's family believe that the harsh prison conditions, and the pressure of her pending court case, are major factors of her declining health and depressive state. To review previous reports on Maryam's situation, click here.

Ebrahim Firouzi - Ebrahim recently heard from the Iranian Court of Appeal that his five-year sentence has been upheld. The decision over his case -- made in December 2016 but only just revealed -- means he will not be released until January 2020. After his release, he will be exiled to Sarbaz, a deprived township in Sistan-Baluchestan.

Ebrahim's requests for special leave during his imprisonment have always been turned down. He has asked for leave in order to see his ailing mother who has had cancer for the past year. Due to her poor health, she was not able to visit Ebrahim in prison. In July 2016, she sent a video message to court officials stating that the stress of not seeing her son is a major contributing factor of her illness.

In June 2013, Ebrahim was charged for attempting to launch a Christian website, making contact with what officials considered "suspicious foreigners," and running online church services. His sentence for the 2013 arrest was initially supposed to be a one-year imprisonment with a two-year exile to Sarbaz. Although he should have been released in January 2015, a new case was opened against him. More information is available here.

As the Lord's mercies are new every morning, we ask Him to provide Maryam and Ebrahim the physical, emotional and spiritual strength they require for each new day. Pray that the Iranian authorities will also be touched by God's Spirit, enabling them to extend kindness and mercy toward the many believers who are presently being imprisoned for their Christian faith. In addition, please commit to Him the concerns of the prisoners' families, including Ebrahim's mother who needs His healing touch. May all of God's persecuted people in Iran be encouraged, strengthened -- and ultimately delivered from captivity -- as they faithfully love, serve and follow our Lord Jesus in the face of great trial and suffering.