Persecution Update, July 2017: Iran

Maryam Naghash Zargaran 2017 Iran (USCIRF).png

The Islamic Republic of Iran is among the top 10 worst countries for persecuting Christians. Despite that fact, the Gospel is powerfully at work in that country, especially among younger Iranians. There are now an estimated one million evangelical believers, but scores of these Christians have been imprisoned for their faith and subjected to very harsh conditions. Maryam Naghash Zargaran, a single woman in her late 30s, converted to Christ out of Islam. In 2013 she was arrested because of her ministry among orphans and falsely charged with endangering national security. Maryam has a serious heart condition along with other serious health issues. Iranian authorities grudgingly allowed her to be hospitalized in 2016, but her health continues to deteriorate. Though she was due to be released later this year, the government extended her sentence because of her time in the hospital. Please intercede for Maryam, asking the Lord for a special sense of His presence as she endures suffering for Christ’s sake.  

(Photo from

Persecution Update, October 2015: Iran

Pastor Saeed Abedini Photo credit: American Center for Law & Justice

Pastor Saeed Abedini
Photo credit: American Center for Law & Justice

The Islamic Republic of Iran ranks seventh among the top nations that target Christians for their faith. In 2014 over 75 Christians were arrested, and this past summer at least 18 believers were sentenced to prison for their faith. Yet, despite the risks, Iranian are still coming to Christ!

The most prominent Christian imprisoned for his faith is Iranian-American pastor Saeed Abedini. September 26, 2015, marked three years that he has endured abuse and torture in prison on the false charges of violating the national security of Iran. Actually, Pastor Saeed’s “crime” was that of abandoning Islam and becoming a follower of Jesus. Authorities have withheld medical treatment for past beatings, and recently he was threatened with new charges to be added to his eight-year sentence. Please intercede for Pastor Saeed as well as his wife, Naghmeh, and their children in Idaho. Pray, too, for the many other Christian prisoners and their families in Iran as they suffer in obscurity for the sake of the Gospel.

Update on Pastor Saeed Abedini

On August 25, 2013, the Iranian court rejected Pastor Saeed Abedini's appeal. This decision serves to confirm his 8-year prison sentence. Pastor Saeed, a US citizen from Boise, Idaho, was convicted of threatening the national security of Iran and sentenced to 8 years in one of Iran's most deadly and hostile prisons simply for his belief in Christianity. The court's decision to reject his appeal came from Branch 36 of the Tehran Court of Appeals and refused to give Pastor Saeed's lawyer a copy of their decision. This rejection is a devastating blow to Saeed and his wife and children, as this means he will have to endure many more years of brutal treatment that already threatens his life.  The rejection of this appeal comes just one month before the one-year anniversary of his imprisonment. The next course of action will be to appeal the case to the Supreme Court in Tehran or to beg for a pardon from the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei. As they move forward with these action items, it is important that the US as well as other governments around the world put pressure on Iran. However, up to this point the US government has not been an advocate for Pastor Saeed. Please continue to pray for Pastor Saeed and his family, who remain in Idaho. Also pray that those of influence in the US and other countries will draw international attention to this case.

Breaking News on Pastor Saeed Abedini

Thank you for your continued prayers on behalf of Pastor Saeed Abidini in Iran. The original Persecution Update can be found here. Below is the most up-to-date information we have at this time regarding his case--a article by Stoyan Zaimov, Christian Post Reporter.

"Pastor Saeed Abedini Still in Prison as Trial Begins; Iranian Media Accused of Lying"

By Stoyan Zaimov , Christian Post Reporter

January 21, 2013|4:57 pm

"American Pastor Saeed Abedini has not been freed on bail and remains facing trial and possibly the death penalty in Iran, according to a statement by his wife released on the first day of his trial.

"'This is all a lie by the Iranian media,' Naghmeh Abedini shared in a statement to the American Center for Law and Justice, who are representing the pastor's wife and two children in the United States. The group confirmed that contrary to an Associate Press report that says Iranian authorities have claimed that the pastor has been released, Abedini remains in Evin Prison in Tehran.

"'This has been a repeated promise by the Iranian regime since Saeed was first thrown in prison on September 26, 2012. We have presented bail. After the Judge told Saeed's lawyer that bail was back on the table, the family in Tehran ran around in circles today to make sure Saeed was let out on bail. But again the bail officer rejected bail. This is a game to silence the international media,' Naghmeh Abedini explained.

"'The lawyer in Iran was asked to make a statement, but that was before the family's attempts today and before the regime again rejected bail. Dr. Sarbazi told me today that the regime is not dropping the charges against Saeed – this is the only act that would allow Saeed to leave Iran and return to the U.S,' he added.

"Pastor Abedini appeared on Monday before Judge Pir-Abassi, a notorious 'hanging judge,' in Branch 26 of the Iranian Revolutionary Courts, where he was charged with attempting to undermine the Iranian government by creating a network of Christian house churches. The alleged evidence of the pastor's activities dates back to 2000, when he converted from Islam to Christianity. Prosecutors are saying that Abedini has been trying to influence Islamic youths to convert to Christianity, which is a crime punishable by death in Iran.

"Dr. Naser Sarbazi, Abedini's lawyer in Iran, was only allowed to see the court filing one week before the trial, and was given less than 24 hours to meet with the 32-year old pastor and prepare a defense, the ACLJ noted. The lawgroup say that Dr. Sarbazi still managed to present a strong case for why Pastor Abedini's work was not a threat to the national security of Iran, and positioned that the American was motivated solely by his faith and was without a political agenda.

"A number of lay church leaders have apparently been summoned to court to testify tomorrow about the pastor's work in Iran, but it is unclear how long the trial will go on for. It is also not certain what kind of sentence Judge Pir-Abassi is planning on giving Pastor Abedini, but a lengthy prison sentence or even capital punishment are possibilities. Abedini has spoken out about his fears of being put to death for his faith, and the judge in question was declared in 2011 by the European Union as an individual subject to sanctions for human rights violations for sentencing a number of human right activists to death.

"'Judge Pir-Abassi could render his verdict as early as next week, which means there is still time for the leaders of the free world to speak out loudly on Pastor Saeed's behalf,' Jordan Sekulow, Executive Director of the ACLJ, urged in the press release.

"'We know from past cases that strong international support is crucial, but the responsibility to support a U.S. citizen starts with our own government. While we patiently await Pastor Saeed's verdict there is still time for President Obama and Secretary Clinton to stand publicly with this U.S. citizen,' Sekulow added, pointing to a public petition to the U.S. government calling for more action to be taken on the pastor's behalf.

"U.S. National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor has said that the State Department needs to take all necessary action to help Pastor Abedini.

"'We remain troubled by the case of U.S. citizen Saeed Abedini, who was arrested by Iranian officials more than three months ago on charges relating to his religious beliefs,' Vietor shared in a statement reported by The Jerusalem Post. 'We call upon Iranian authorities to release him immediately.'

"Rep. Frank Wolf (R Virginia) added: 'The president and secretary of state need to speak out over and over to draw attention to the dire situation of persecuted Christians in Iran and in the Middle East.'"

(Article Courtesy of The Christian Post at