Iranian Christians request prayer for nine Christian converts associated with the “Church of Iran” who attended an aborted court hearing on 24 July.
The men were arrested in raids on house churches earlier this year. Seven of them were released on bail, the two exceptions being Pastor Matthias Haghnejad and Shahrooz Eslamdoust. The defendants were summoned to court in Tehran on 24 July. Pastor Matthias and the eight others appeared before Judge Mohammed Moghiseh, charged with “acting against national security” and “promoting Zionism.” Matthias Haghnejad, Shahrouz Eslamdoust, Babak Hosseinzadeh, Behnam Akhlaghi and Mehdi Khatibi had chosen Moshgani Farahani as their lawyer. The other defendants, Hossein Kadivar, Kamal Naamanian and Mohammed Vafada, decided to defend themselves. The judge rejected the lawyer and the defendants refused to accept an alternative recommended by the court. Their insistence angered Judge Moghiseh, who ordered the transfer of Pastor Haghnejad and Shahrouz Eslamdoust to Evin Prison and the arrest of Babak Hosseinzadeh, Behnam Akhlaghi and Mehdi Khatibi, pending their submission of bail of 1.5 billion Toman (€160,000) each. Babak Hosseinzadeh, Behnam Akhlaghi and Mehdi Khatibi were transferred to an unknown location.The hearing has been rescheduled for Sunday, 28 July.
Iranian Christians request prayer that:
- The Lord will strengthen the faith of those detained and comfort their families
- The defendants will have wisdom in dealing with the Iranian authorities
- At the hearing on Sunday, the judge will be merciful towards the defendants and pay careful attention to their defence on 28 July
- Adopting a new belief will not be seen as a threat to national security in Iran and that converts from Islam will no longer be persecuted on account of their religious beliefs