ALPHARETTA, GEORGIA (ANS) — Over the summer, around 200 Iranian teenagers in the Iran region will have the opportunity to gather together to learn more about our glorious God.
At two residential conferences, the next generation will be learning about God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. There will be time for vibrant worship, strong Bible teaching, and memorable times of fellowship, according to Elam Ministries.
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The teenagers who will attend are members of Persian-speaking churches in the Iran region. Rarely do they have the opportunity for fellowship with large groups of their peers. And some have yet to make personal decisions to follow Christ.
“We firmly believe that God is calling the next generation of Iranian Christ-followers to do greater things than the generations that have gone before. That’s why we are committed to investing in the young people of the Iranian church,” said David Yeghnazar, Executive Director of Elam Ministries in a ministry update.
“Please join us in praying as we invest in precious young people, for the ministry team as they prepare for the conference, and for salvation for those not yet following Jesus, and for all the teens to walk closer with the Lord as a result of these conferences.”
Iranian advisor advocates harsher treatment of converts
Meanwhile, Elam Ministries reports a member of Iran’s Expediency Council (an advisory body for Iran’s supreme leader) stated in a recent interview that Muslims who convert to Christianity deserve the death penalty, whether “man or woman, boy or girl.”
The comments of this council member — Seyed-Hashem Bathaee — are the latest in a long tradition of public rhetoric against Christianity from the authorities. But Bathaee is advocating a remarkably harsh approach to those who abandon Islam. His comments are most likely a reaction to the rapid growth of Christianity in Iran.
Elam said: “In Iran today, Christian converts are far more likely to serve long prison sentences on trumped up political charges than to be killed for apostasy (abandoning Islam).
“Hossein Soodmand, a pastor killed in 1990, is the last known Christian to be judicially executed for apostasy in Iran — though others have since been murdered in suspicious circumstances. Yousef Nadarkhani was sentenced to death for apostasy in 2010 but was later acquitted after an international outcry.”
Elam explained that apostasy is not explicitly codified as a crime in Iranian law. However, a loophole in the constitution means that judges do have the option of using “authentic Islamic sources or authoritative fatwas” in order to apply the death penalty to apostates.
Please pray that, following these comments, Christian converts would not fear but know the peace of Christ and also that Bathaee’s comments are not accompanied by an increase in pressure on Christians and that authoritative Iranian voices in favor of religious freedom would courageously speak out.