Christians throughout the world will honor and celebrate the Lord's death and resurrection this weekend. At a time when Christians remember the Savior's suffering, it is also appropriate to remember and pray for the many who are paying the price of faithfulness to the Lord with their lives.
For decades, Christians in Iran have been targeted for their commitment to Christ. In the 1990s, Mehdi Dibaj, a pastor in Iran, and Haik Hovsepian, general superintendent of the Iran Assemblies of God, were murdered for their faith in Christ.
Recently the imprisonment of U.S. Pastor Saeed Abedini in Iran has brought renewed national attention to how Christians suffer in that country. However, Abedini is not alone. Right now more than 20 men and women are known to be imprisoned in Iran for their faith in Christ.
"Our hearts go out to our brothers and sisters in Iran," states Omar Beiler, AGWM Eurasia regional director. "What touches me deeply is that in every case I'm aware of, these heroes of the faith willingly lay down their lives for the glory of God and the cause of Christ. We constantly hear reports of how the church in Iran continues to grow in number and in strength."
Though their stories are not widely publicized, believers in other countries face similar persecution for their faith.
AGWM Communications Director Randy Hurst says, "If anything inspires Christians to pray, it should be these accounts of imprisoned and martyred fellow believers. This is happening now, in real time, to real people with real families. Yet, God repeatedly demonstrates His miraculous power in times of adversity."
In their sufferings, these imprisoned believers have become powerful testimonies of unwavering faith in the resurrected Christ-even to their persecutors.
"Suffering is not an end in itself; our response to suffering is what is most significant," says AGWM Executive Director Greg Mundis. "Both those who suffer and those who lift up the suffering have a purpose to fulfill. Let us commit ourselves to pray faithfully and do all we can for our brothers and sisters, even as we trust God to complete His purposes and bring glory to His name.
For more information, see the AG World Missions website.