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Presbyterian church in Tabriz
Photo: Google

The Assyrian Christian community in the city of Tabriz were shocked to discover that the Presbyterian church was being forced to close. Intelligence agents stormed the 100-year-old national heritage site on May 9th. Locks were changed, the cross on the tower was torn down, and the church warden was ordered to leave.

The building was officially confiscated due to a Revolutionary Court order in 2011, as were many other churches across the country. However, until now, church members were allowed to continue using the building for services. According to one source, the congregants have been fearful that some form of action may be taken against them, especially since the pastors of other churches were prevented from attending a jointly organized Christmas service.

Members of the Christian Assyrian and Armenian communities are officially recognized as religious minorities with protected religious freedom, provided worship is done in their own languages. However, these churches have frequently attracted Muslim Iranians as well. Christians found to be involved in evangelism have been charged with "actions against national security."

Please uphold the members of this Assyrian church in your prayers, as well as other Christians throughout Iran who are experiencing various forms of persecution -- whether it be through legal prosecution, imprisonment, the estrangement of loved ones, and/or the rejection of those in their communities. Ask that God's strength will enable them to continue demonstrating His love and grace in the midst of opposition. Also pray for the many converts coming to faith in Christ who will need ongoing discipleship and encouragement for their new spiritual journey.