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Scenery in Iran

Two Iranian Christians were sentenced to a total of eight years in prison by a revolutionary court in December 2017 after being convicted of national security-related crimes. Suroush Saraie and Eskandar Rezaie, who are both members of the Church of Iran denomination, each received seven-year sentences for "creating a group that works against national security" and an additional year for "propaganda against the state." Both men are appealing the verdict. (A report on the previous arrest of these believers, which took place in 2012 during a home prayer meeting, can be found here.)

The more recent verdict was handed down in a court hearing at the 4th Chamber of the Revolutionary Court in Shiraz. During this same court hearing, a Christian woman named Zahra Norouzi Kashkouli was sentenced to a year in prison for "being a member of a group working against the system." She is also appealing the sentence.

Article 23 of the Iranian constitution states that "the investigation of individuals' beliefs is forbidden, and no one may be molested or taken to task simply for holding a certain belief." Nevertheless, there has been a rise in the arrests of members affiliated with minority faith communities since the advent of the Rouhani presidency. Christians have since been routinely charged with national security-related crimes in order to justify the excessive sentences.

Despite these incriminating sentences, ask God to draw the focus of the three convicted believers onto Him -- the Author and Finisher of their faith (Hebrews 12:2) -- so they will not despair. May they see beyond their present circumstances to the unfolding of His greater and higher plans, not only in relation to their own lives but with an awareness of the potential spiritual impact they can have on others. Pray that as the Lord mediates for justice and deliverance on their behalf, imparting wisdom to their legal representatives throughout the process, these imprisoned Christians will serve as effective witnesses -- filled afresh with His Holy Spirit and wonderfully comforted and strengthened by His abiding presence.