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‘Return home and be arrested,’ Iran threatens persecuted Christian refugee

June 6, 2023 by Abigail Hart in Persecuted Christians in Iran

Samuel grew up in a family of Christian ministers. Persecution in Iran was something he knew well. He remembers when he was a boy and local pastors were kidnapped by Islamic enforcers; some of those persecuted Christians were ultimately killed for their faith. It was during that time when Samuel’s father, a leader in his church, went missing, too. Thankfully, his father eventually came home, but Samuel grew up with many fears and uncertainties, all surrounded by the never-ending threat of persecution.

However, persecution wouldn’t stop Samuel from pursuing a life in ministry. Growing up and wanting to follow in his family’s footsteps, he went to school for a degree in music, with the desire of becoming a worship leader. While earning his degree in Armenia, his parents were arrested.

He had been watching his family’s Christmas church service online when the stream suddenly stopped. For a couple of hours, he heard nothing, hoping the service disruption was just a computer glitch. Then he received a call informing him about the arrest of his parents and other church members.

Samuel grew up around persecuted Christians in Iran and knew his parents being arrested wasn’t unprecedented. He consoled himself with the belief that their arrest would follow a similar pattern as previous arrests; he believed his parents would be released soon. Unfortunately, he was mistaken.

The media picked up the arrests and the coverage intensified the authorities’ grip on those from Samuel’s church, making the situation even more difficult. Their arrest and subsequent release spanned several years. It was during this time that Samuel was confronted with a threat: return home and be arrested, too.

As a result, he found himself unable to travel to Iran and communicate with his parents. The Islamic Republic enforcers maintained surveillance on Samuel while he resided in Armenia, ensuring that he understood their seriousness.

Samuel reflects on his personal experience, stating, “The most challenging aspect of being a persecuted Christian is the constant threat of being persecuted, rather than the persecution itself. When faced with a life-threatening situation, one’s mental state is confined to that of a prisoner. Although I wasn’t physically imprisoned like my parents, I felt an overwhelming sense of danger that consumed me day and night during that time, and it continues to impact my well-being to this day.”

Samuel’s family has since been released. He is finally able to follow his family’s tradition of ministry by using his gifts as a worship leader in Turkey, where he resides as a refugee. Please pray that the Lord will heal the years of trauma that Samuel and his family endured and use these experiences to draw others to the light of Christ in Turkey.

*Samuel is pictured above.

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