Dr. George O. Wood, general superintendent of the Assemblies of God (USA) and chairman of the World Assemblies of God Fellowship representing more than 63 million members, has called church members around the world to pray for the church in Iran amidst escalating persecution of religious minorities in Iran.
“The intensifying efforts by the Iranian government specifically to stamp out Christian churches, need to stop immediately,” he states.
“The World Assemblies of God Fellowship strongly condemns the systematic and ongoing violations of religious freedom, including closure of the Iranian churches, unjustified restrictions imposed on Church services, arrests and intimidation of Christian converts from Islam and those engaged in evangelism,” Dr. Wood continued.
Christians in Iran, in particular Evangelicals, continue to be subject to harassment, arrests, close surveillance and imprisonment, despite fresh concerns over the closure of Assemblies of God church in Tehran’s Janat-Abad earlier this month. On Tuesday, June 5, 2012, the Assemblies of God church in Tehran’s Janat-Abad suburb was told to cease all activities and threatened with the confiscation of its building.
In early May, leaders of another Assemblies of God church in Tehran were ordered by the Ministry of Intelligence to submit the names and ID numbers of all members. Church leaders provided a list of names and ID numbers of church members who had given their consent, some of whom have subsequently been pressured by the authorities.
Since early February, two other legally recognized churches in Tehran have been ordered to stop holding Farsi-language services on Fridays, and that several members of Anglican, Presbyterian and Assemblies of God Churches have been arrested. Two of these are among at least 20 believers (most from Muslim backgrounds) who are known still to be detained.
Dr. Wood is requesting that Assemblies of God congregations make these issues a matter of prayer in all services over the next few weeks.
“There is an urgent need for Christians all over the world to intercede for our brothers and sisters in Iran,” Dr. Wood continues.
“We need to pray that the closure order will be reversed and other restrictions on churches lifted and that all Christians in Iran will know the protection of the Father, comfort of the Son and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.” He also requested that the church pray that those believers who are currently detained will know the presence and peace of Jesus, and be released soon and that all officials involved will love mercy, act justly, learn about Jesus and choose to follow Him.
The World Assemblies of God Fellowship also urged the human rights and religious freedom fraternity and international polity to treat and highlight the escalating persecution of religious minorities in Iran as an extremely serious issue.