Sunday, November 27, 2011

AOG Church Singled Out in Iran for Evangelical Activity

I pray that my Iranian brethren in Christ Jesus continue to be bold for the risen Savior and they continue to attract youth by God's grace to the foot of the cross.

11/23/2011 Iran (Mohabat News) – The unsubstantiated report about evangelistic activities of the Assemblies of God church of Markaz in Tehran was obviously written by one of the hidden soldiers of the 12th Imam (Secret Security authorities) to motivate senior security authorities. It also appears that this shabby act was intended to spark anti-Christian feelings within Iran.

Exaggerating has become a habit of news providers for government supported and regime dependent media who introduce themselves as hidden soldiers. They have claimed that the "Markaz Church, an Assemblies of God church in Tehran, is extremely active in propagation and sending evangelical Christian groups throughout the country to attract Muslim youth to Christianity.

Their websites say "The congregation of the Church of Markaz are Christian extremists who use various ways to bring members to their church and to convert Iranian Muslim youth. They try to destroy the image of the sacred regime of Iran in the world. They deceive young people who are financially in need by promising to grant them refugee status in other countries." The websites also report that these evangelists with the support of American mass media want to show a negative image of the Islamic republic to the international community.

But making such repeated claims by the staff of government sponsored media is more like a report to the security authorities and organizations rather than a piece of news. Such action seems to have an unstated purpose behind it.

Presentations of this kind of biased news about Christianity and Iranian Christians has taken place at the same time as the Supreme Leader, scholars and Islamic clerics as well as senior authorities and staff of the Revolutionary Guards and other security and intelligence forces are making serious efforts to oppose Christianity in Iran.

-Result of establishment of government of Islam

These unsubstantiated and misleading claims about the activities of churches to attract Muslim youth to Christianity are being made at time when government, religious and security authorities have become particularly sensitive on such issues. The churches don't consider it necessary to take such actions to invite Muslim youth to Christianity!

Meanwhile, as a result of the increasing awareness of Iranian citizens following the establishment of the pure Islamic government and in spite of threats, torture, beatings, imprisonments and executions, Iranian youth are turning from Islam in large numbers and seeking to base their lives and religious beliefs on their own investigation.

- From closure of churches to shutting down of worship services of Farsi-speaking Christians
Despite all the pressures and threats by the regime, the movement to Christianity in Iran has grown to the extent that some (generally Farsi-speaking) churches in some cities were closed and locked by the security forces. In the other churches that were not closed, these forces prevented Farsi-speaking Christians (mainly Christian converts) from entering.

The Assyrian church of "Shahr-Ara" in Tehran is an example of this. Farsi-speaking Christians formed a large number of its congregation before security forces with the cooperation of the representative of the Assyrians in the Islamic parliament (Majles-e-shoraye-eslami), dismissed the pastor of the church and cancelled the Farsi worship services there. In another case and prior to this incident, there were routine Farsi church services being held in the AOG church of Markaz in Tehran, but on Friday, 30 October 2009 security authorities threatened the church leaders and cancelled the Friday evening services which were being held in two services because of the huge number of attendees.

However, these restrictions have made every believer's house into a church and have caused the regime to be afraid of the house church movement and active churches. The authorities also seem to be afraid of historical churches which have become historical monuments and belong to the history of the country. The destruction of the historical church in the city of Kerman didn't cause an outcry from any Iranian authorities, not even the voice of the spineless representatives for religious minorities in the Islamic parliament of Iran. These are all examples of the attitude of the regime towards Iranian Christians and their places of worship.

-Spying on the activities of the churches

The dear person who writes such reports about the activities of the AOG church of Tehran and raises such claims, knows very well that all church activities, programs and services in Iran and in this case the AOG church of Tehran are under careful observation by security and intelligence agents.

Though the writer of this article comes from the same church, it is well known that all the efforts and activities of the leadership of the AOG church of Tehran have always been according to the word of God which says: "13 Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, 14 or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right." (1 Peter 2:13-14).

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