Iranian Christians request prayer after the five-year prison sentence for pastor Abdolreza (Matthias) Haghnejad was upheld by the appeal court.
Abdolreza (Matthias) Haghnejad was arrested on 10 February 2019 when agents of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard raided the house church gathering in Rasht where pastor Matthias was ministering. Bibles and mobile phones were confiscated. Eight members of the same church were also arrested between 31 January and 23 February 2019.
On 24 July 2019, at a preliminary hearing, Pastor Matthias and the eight others were accused of “acting against national security” and “promoting Zionism.” Judge Mohammed Moghiseh rejected the lawyer representing five of the defendants, including pastor Matthias. They rejected an alternate appointed by the court, angering the judge, who then had the five men transferred to Evin Prison, where they have since been detained.
A verdict on 13 October saw each of the nine Christian converts receive five years in prison for “acting against national security.”
Pastor Matthias was not required to attend the appeal court – a recent measure introduced to help cope with overcrowding of the courts and process the large number of accumulated cases – and on 25 February the court decided in his absence to uphold the five-year prison sentence for “acting against national security.”
Friends of pastor Matthias request prayer for him, his family and the other defendants in this case that:
- Pastor Matthias and his family will not be discouraged and that their faith in the Lord Jesus will be strengthened
- Due judicial procedure will be observed in the appeal process and that the verdicts against the defendants will be overturned
- Belief in Jesus Christ and following Him will not be reckoned as a crime through “acting against national security” by the Iranian authorities and that Iranian citizens will no longer be persecuted because of holding to different religious beliefs