praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,
Ephesians 6:18 — English Standard Version
Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
James 5:16 — English Standard Version
But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
Matthew 5:44 — From Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount — English Standard Version
Love Your Enemies
“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.
Luke 6:27-31 — Jesus ministers to a great multitude — English Standard Version
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
Hebrews 10:23-25 — English Standard Version
pray without ceasing,
1 Thessalonians 5:17 — English Standard Version
The love mentioned in the Holy Scriptures is not to be confused or misrepresented with the worldly connotations and definitions of love, so oft misused, overused and perverted by the world and even many professing to be disciples of Jesus Christ the Lord.
The love in Scriptures more times than not is not emotional love, Valentine’s card love, man and woman love, but is agapaō love.
A caring, a compassion, an understanding, a sacrifice of self, putting self aside, putting worldly ways and philosophies aside and making a sacrifice within our hearts toward someone else. Genuine deep love for another. Especially those we do not know or may never know, never meet. Especially for those who by all worldly definitions are our enemies. Pray for these that the Almighty Power of the Spirit of God works in them. Have faith. While also praying for, having agapaō love for fellow brothers and sisters around the world we may never meet or know, until removed from this fleshly earth and in heaven with our Lord, who are facing great sufferings and persecutions.
Jesus Christ tells us how easy it is to love those who love us but what gain or fruit is there in that? On a spiritual level, which is the level we ought to be on and concerned with. But to love our enemies, to love those who do not love us? Well, that is quite different. And something to aspire to daily. Through prayer. Through faithfulness. Through continual prayer and turning to God’s inerrant living Word.
For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same. And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.
Luke 6:32-36 — King James Version Holy Bible
ACP — A Crooked Path
Tuesday, February 26th, 2019
Iran: Mounting Persecution of Christians
- “We created a people’s army to defend the country and also help in emergencies, but it turned into a monster.” — Mohsen Sazegara, on the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which he helped establish.
- Under international law, the Iranian government has an obligation to respect freedom of religion. Yet, while the rights of Christians are being violated in Iran at an unprecedented level, how long will the international community remain silent?
- What will it take for these endlessly preening moralists to act against those human rights violations?
|One objective of the violations against Christians by Iran’s Islamic forces seems to be to threaten and intimidate the entire Christian community, whose ancestors have lived in this country for thousands of years, to flee in fear of imprisonment, torture and death. Pictured: St. Mary’s Church in Khuygan-e Olya, Isfahan Province, Iran. (Image source: Arteen Arakel Lalabekyan/Wikimedia Commons)|
The persecution of Christians in Iran in 2018 increased to a new level, according to an in-depth report jointly released by Open Doors, Middle East Concern, Article 18, and Christian Solidarity Worldwide.
“The end of 2018 saw an unprecedented wave of raids on private house gatherings, leading to a large number of arrests. Many Christians received prison sentences, or had sentences upheld by the Court of Appeal,” noted the report.
Despite this roaring abuse, and violations and attacks against Christians being significantly ratcheted up, the international community continues to label the Iranian government, run by President Hassan Rouhani, as “moderate.
What is puzzling is that while the Iranian authorities boast that Christians and other religious minorities are treated fairly under Islam, the Iranian regime is, in fact, increasingly targeting Christians solely for daring peacefully to practice their faith.
Even though these actions are frequently documented, their claims do not match up with the ever-increasing numbers of arrests and punishments suffered by those practicing a religion other than Islam. For example, in a single recent week, more than 100 Christians were arrested. There was also an unprecedented “surge during November and December 2018 as arrests were reported in the cities of Ahvaz, Chalus, Damavand, Hamedan, Hashtgerd, Karaj, Mashhad, Rasht, Shahinshahr and Tehran. In one week alone, one hundred and fourteen Christians were reported to have been arrested.”
Two of the Islamic Republic’s state organs seem to responsible for initiating these violations against Christians. The Ministry of Intelligence and its affiliated agents carry out sophisticated surveillance of the Christian communities, and their actions are documented and recorded throughout their daily lives. The information is then passed to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), a security service that has morphed into a terror group. As the Guardian reports:
“Mohsen Sazegara was a founding member of Khomeni’s sepah [IRGC], but is now an exiled dissident and an outspoken critic of the organisation he helped establish. ‘We created a people’s army to defend the country and also help in emergencies, but it turned into a monster.'”
Acting on the information they receive, the Revolutionary Guards unleash raids throughout the Christian community, and make sweeping arrests of the citizens. The abuse does not stop with surveillance and arrest; these innocent citizens are then denied fair and due process or access to their own counsel. To solicit a confession, the interrogators resort to violence and, according to Open Doors, solitary confinement and an assortment of physical and psychological torture techniques:
“Prisoners are often tortured physically and mentally. They are subjected to near-daily interrogations, including prolonged beatings, and forced to endure twisted acts of persecution. While he was in prison, church teacher and ex-prisoner Morad recounted how the guards would bring him tea but not allow him to go to the bathroom. Ex-prisoners report sleep deprivation and threats of harm to family members — as well as pressure to recant their faith.”
The IRGC does not limit itself to individuals. It has repeatedly raided entire churches, shut them down, or confiscated the Christians’ properties. As a result of this runaway torment, an increasing number of Christians have resorted to practicing their faith privately in their homes, a practice known as hosting “house churches”. Even being in their own homes provides no safety: the IRCG continue to increase their crackdown on any Christian religious practice.
The regime’s authorities then usually create trumped up charges against Christians such as, “endangering the national security” of the country. Shamiram Issavi Khabizeh, the wife of Rev. Victor Bet Tamraz, for instance, was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment for “membership in a group with the purpose of disrupting national security.” The Sharia court also added another five years in prison to her sentence for “gathering and colluding to commit crimes against national security.” Their only evidence for this charge was that she was caught practicing her religion. How can reading a gospel in one’s private home be such a grave threat to the national security of the country?
One objective of these kind of violations against Christians by Iran’s Islamic forces seems to be to threaten and intimidate the entire Christian community, whose ancestors have lived in this country for thousands of years, to flee in fear of imprisonment, torture and death. The Revolutionary Guards strategy seems to be to continue to apply pressure on the Christian community to decrease the number of Christians living in Iran, allowing the proportion of Muslims to increase, thereby affording the majority an even greater level of control.
Another objective seems to be driving the practice of Christianity into the shadows. Their mistreatment not only keeps Christians on edge and terrified; it also prevents them from spreading their gospel in a public manner and adding others to their faith. The Iranian government views Christians who stay in the country as outsiders, so it treats them as such.
Under international law, the Iranian government has an obligation to respect freedom of religion. Yet, while the rights of Christians are being violated in Iran at an unprecedented level, how long will the international community remain silent?
What will it take for these endlessly preening moralists to act against those human rights violations so that one day people will not have to hide their gospel, or live their daily lives in fear of severe persecution? If the Iranian government refuses to take steps to protect the rights and freedom of the Christians, these innocent people can only plead for humanitarian aid from the community outside their borders, in the hope that one day they might live in a land where their beliefs and prayers are not a reason for imprisonment and torture.
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a business strategist and advisor, Harvard-educated scholar, political scientist, board member of Harvard International Review, and president of the International American Council on the Middle East. He has authored several books on Islam and U.S. Foreign Policy. He can be reached at Dr.Rafizadeh@Post.Harvard.Edu