What if… you were arrested by the government on charges related to the way you live your Christian life? We have heard before the comment, “If you were charged with being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” In the United States the evidence might only require that you were seen in a church somewhere that suffices. But what if you were charged with how intensely you live your Christian life? The level of evidence required has shifted!
Could these charges be proven against you and your Christian faith: Disturbing Public Order, Evangelizing, Threatening National Security, and Engaging in Internet Activity that Threatens the Government? You may recall how the Jews, in an oratory against Paul and his ministry team, stirred up the crowd that they had “turned the world upside down!” What a great compliment!
Five Christians in Iran are now on trial for their lives and those are the charges against them. Likely, they will be convicted. Likely, they will get, at the minimum, very lengthy prison sentences. Personally, any length of a sentence in any jail would be difficult, but a long one in an Iranian jail, as a Christian? No thanks. I’ll pass. It’s almost as if I just heard some reader say, ‘Shame on you! You should be honored to go to jail for Christ!’ I believe I would go to jail for Him and I would count it an honor, but even Christ, Himself, said to His Father, ‘if possible, may this cup pass from me…’ Just because it’s an honor, we don’t have to enjoy the prospect of it!
The five have already been in jail since October without a trial. They had been in a prayer meeting in a house church when it was raided by authorities.[i] Those who understand the workings of the Iranian government report that the arrests of those seen as dissidents are increasing as the time for elections draw closer. They also report that Christians and others who choose any religion other than orthodox Shia Islam are being targeted by the government. Early this year American (from Idaho) Pastor Saeed Abedini, after being held in Iran for months before being sentenced earlier this year to eight years in the ‘notorious Evin prison that is an extremely violent place. Abedini had been arrested and released in 2005 upon promising to not evangelize in Iran again. This past summer he traveled to Iran to help build a secular orphanage. Obviously made aware of his travel, upon arriving in Iran, he was immediately taken off a bus and incarcerated. According to resources, anyone who converts from Islam to Christianity is seen as ‘waging war against Islam’[ii] which is punishable by death.