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Christians Sentenced to 10 Years for Celebrating Christmas

07-10-2017
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Three Christians are currently sitting in Iranian prisons, charged with blasphemy and threatening national security.

Their crime? Worshipping Jesus. 

It's a story that is all too common in Iran, where religious freedom for non-Muslims is scarce. 

Pastor Victor Tamraz, Amin Naderi, and Hadi Asgari were each sentenced to at least 10 years in prison for celebrating Christmas together in 2014. 

According to a report from Middle East Concern, Tamraz hosted a small Christmas picnic and invited Naderi and Asgari, who are recent converts from Islam. 

Soon after the picnic, they were charged with "conducting evangelism," "illegal house church activities," "acting against national security," and "insulting the sacred."

The Iranian government isn't stopping with Tamraz and his friends, they're also going after the pastor's family. 

Pastor Tamraz's wife and son were also arrested on similar charges for attending the Christmas picnic. 

Miles Windsor from Middle East Concern says the recent crackdown on Christians shows that the Iranian government is threatened by the gospel. 

"The Iranian authorities I think are paranoid about anything which doesn't sit with their perception of the world and of government and religion," says Windsor. "So, anything which is perceived as outside of that, even though these house churches and these believers pose no threat to the Iranian regime, they see these house churches and these believers as a threat."

While it may be easy to get outraged at those persecuting Christians, Windsor believes it is the perfect opportunity to pray instead. 

"More broadly, I think we can be praying that the Iranian regime loosens its grip against Christians and other minorities, that God would be changing the hearts and minds of those who currently seek to attack His Church and His people," Windsor says. "And we're called also to pray for our enemies. So be praying that there would be those in authority as well in Iran who would be turning to Jesus."

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