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6/22/07 Iran (MNN)Voice of the Martyrs’ Todd Nettleton confirms a wave of national persecution of Iranian believers. “Many other Christians in several different parts of the country have been detained by police, interrogated and released. The interesting thing about this is it seems very widespread across different Christian groups in Iran, so it seems like a very concerted effort to put pressure on the church in Iran.”

According to VOM sources, this new action is coming against Christians who are meeting to worship God in the privacy of their homes. Says one source, “One house was stormed by an elite police team that confiscated a computer, several CDs and Christian materials. A Christian was arrested in this attack and remains in prison.”

Iran ranks third on the Open Doors World Watch list of the world’s worst persecutors of Christians. Even though Christians belong to one of the recognized religious minorities who are guaranteed religious freedom, they have reported imprisonment, harassment and discrimination because of their faith. Various Christian groups known to use literature and other means to spread their faith among the majority Shiite Muslim population were targeted over the past year.

According to Open Doors, in at least eight known incidents, former Muslims who had converted to Christianity were arrested and held in custody for several weeks before being released. In most cases, they were forced to pay large bail amounts and were told their cases remained open for possible criminal prosecution.

Most governors are denying there is any form of discrimination in their provinces.

However, Nettleton says, “We do know that the church is growing at an incredible rate in Iran. Christians are being very bold in their witness. They’re witnessing in public parks, and they are doing some great work to get the Gospel out. The result of that is that the church is growing; unfortunately, it seems to have gotten the attention of the government as well.”

Pray that believers in Iran will remain steadfast in their faith despite this new wave of persecution. Pray, too for the release of the believer in prison and for protection for all Christians in Iran.