The Assyrian Christian community in the Iranian city of Tabriz turn to prayer after their local church was forcibly closed down in May.
Assyrian Presbyterian Church, a 100-year-old church and National Heritage site, was shut down suddenly by officials on May 9th. The church had previously been allowed to operate and hold services as long as they were only preached in the Assyrian language. Christians from the Assyrian and Armenian communities are considered by the government to be a recognized minority, and although this church had a court order placed upon it in 2011, they had still been able to hold services up until now.
In a shocking series of events, officials charged into the church building, changing the locks on the doors, installing monitoring equipment, and taking down the cross from the church tower. They proceeded to forcibly remove the caretaker from the premises.
The Assyrian Christians were prevented from carrying out any worship services from that point onward.
This past Christmas, church members began to fear government action against their church when pastors from other churches were not permitted to be a part of a joint worship service being held at the Tabriz church. This unease continued throughout the beginning of the year, leading up to the events of May 9th.
Church activity has been increasingly restricted in Iran. Advocacy director Mansour Borji from Article18 states, “Many churches have been confiscated in Iran.” Even if churches are listed as they are required to be by the government, the government can still take over and try to repurpose the buildings. Oftentimes, once buildings are confiscated, these buildings remain empty and eventually turn into ruins.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Pastor Tat Stewart, a respected member of the SAT-7 PARS Board, urges Christians:
We can pray for the members of this little church in Tabriz that have no doubt been traumatized by these events.
We can pray that what was intended for evil will be use for the advancement of the Gospel.
We can pray that the Christians in Iran will see that the Christians worldwide care for them and are standing with them in this hour of need.”
Even when churches close down, God’s truth still prevails. People can still encounter the Gospel from the protection of their homes through watching broadcasts of SAT-7 programs. You can provide an Iranian Christian with a full year of programs with just $1!
Thank you for your support in making the ministry of SAT-7 possible!