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Iran Arrests Christian Mother and Son, Seize Bibles in Crackdown


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Iran's elite paramilitary force known as Revolutionary Guards has reportedly arrested a Christian mother and her son for their faith.

Anousheh Reza-bakhsh and her son Soheil Zagarzadeh Sani were taken to an unknown location late last month from their home in Iran's northwestern province.

According to Mohabat News, an Iranian Christian news agency, intelligence officers raided the family home on February 20th, seizing several books, including Bibles and theological books.

Sani, a senior studying psychology, and his mother, converted from Islam to Catholicism. One source says the two were baptized in Turkey in August 2006.

Sani was reportedly an avid viewer of Christian satellite TV channels and spent time online reading Christians books and other materials to deepen his faith.

Eliot Assoudeh, an Iranian-American academic at University of Nevada, told Fox News this "is very sad and concerning, especially as they both are dealing with health issues. It's been more than two weeks that Iranian authorities have not provided any news on them."

Meanwhile, a Facebook page has been created to draw attention to their plight.

Open Doors USA, a group that monitors religious freedom around the world, says Christianity in Iran is often viewed as "a Western influence and a threat to the Islamic identity of the Republic."

The group recently ranked Iran as the eighth worst country for Christians in the world and described the persecution level there as "extreme."

"Converts to Christianity from Islam make up the largest group of Christians and experience the most persecution," Open Doors stated on its website.

In late December, 2016, CBN News interviewed three men from Azerbaijan who were miraculously released after spending months inside an Iranian prison.

Iranian authorities arrested Bahram Nasibov, Eldar Gurbanov and Yusif Farhadov on June 24, 2016, for allegedly conducting missionary activity while visiting friends in Tehran.

Yusif Farhadov was in an apartment leading a Bible study when a sudden knock on the door caught them by surprise.

"We opened the door and 20 to 25 men suddenly rushed into the apartment," Farhadov told CBN News.

Eldar Gurbanov, 48, said he immediately knew they were in trouble.

"When they burst into the apartment I knew right away that they were police officers, or government agents, because I've had similar experiences in Azerbaijan when authorities would raid our Christian meetings," said Gurbanov.

After questioning, the government charged them with trying to convert Iranians to Christianity and sent the men to Evin Prison, Iran's most notorious jail.

"The judge told us that we could spend 10 years in prison," said Nasibov.

But a global prayer effort eventually led to their release.

"We are so thankful to those who prayed for us," Gurbanov told CBN News. "This could have happened to anyone, we are not special, but people reached out to us and that means a lot."

Despite persecution, the church in Iran is growing, thanks in part to the scores of Iranians who say they've had a dream or vision of Christ.

CBN News Middle East Bureau Chief Chris Mitchell recently met one Christian Iranian named Reza who shared an experience of seeing Christ in a dream.

"I had a dream," Reza told Mitchell. "I had a dream long time back and every time that Jesus was with me," he continued. "And in all of my life, He was helping me and I didn't know who was this Person. Suddenly Jesus Christ was over there and He said, 'Come to Me.' And I came to that side and He accepted me."

Reza encouraged CBN News viewers to continually pray for the church in Iran.

"And I'm just begging, really, from the other believers, from other sisters and brothers from all over the world, to pray for Iran and to all the people of Iran to find new God and be familiar with God, with Jesus Christ," he said.



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