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Monday, December 3, 2018

Fatemeh: A fearless warrior for Christ.

Being a Christian in Iran is very dangerous, but Fatemeh is not cowering in fear, instead she fearlessly stands up to the government who is persecuting her. My new blog story will be featured in the new book, "Dear God: Please bring freedom to Iran."

She is only 19 years old, but Fatemeh is a courageous and fearless young Iranian girl who is determined to send a message to the government about her new-found faith. Recently she walked away from Islam and converted to Christianity. In Iran, that is a very dangerous thing to do. Iran is governed by Shiite Mullahs and the Hadith proclaims, “whoever changes his Islamic religion, kill him!”  (Volume 9:57, Al Bukhari)

            Fatemeh understands the danger, but that doesn’t frighten her. She has found hope in Christ and experienced a peace and a joy that she never found in Islam. This makes her bolder and after spending six months in Evin Prison for her faith, she now stands in front of a video camera and publicly protests her treatment after her release.

            Holding up a sign, she looks intently into the camera and declares,
            “I am a Persian speaking Christian in Iran. This message is for all Christians. Please support us and stand with us so that the violence against Christians in Iran will be stopped. The Church is the right of all Christians.”

            The camera zooms in for a close up on the sign that reads, #Not Violence against Christians in Iran and church is the right of Christians. 
             Fatemeh published the video in her Instagram account and invited Christians from all over the world to support her. She has started a campaign for Christians to meet together in a main church in Iran instead of worshiping secretly in house churches for fear of being arrested by the government.

            Thirteen years earlier, in 2005, then President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad pledged in a speech to an audience of Mullahs, “I will stop Christianity in Iran."
            Ahmadinejad made it his personal crusade to persecute and arrest all former Muslims who had converted to Christianity and put an end to the underground house church movement. However, more than a decade later, thousands of young Iranians have ignored his threat and instead found their hope and freedom in Christ. One of those young Iranians, Fatemeh, was arrested in November 2017, and transferred to Evin Prison for “being a member of a proselytizing group,” and “acting against national security through propaganda against the regime.”

            Translation? Fatemeh left Islam and became a Christian, which is against the law since Iran became an Islamic State Republic in 1979. The government interprets this as an act of treason that can be punishable by a life sentence in prison or death by hanging. During her imprisonment she was tortured both mentally and spiritually to repent and forsake her Christian faith, but Fatemeh refused to deny her new-found love in Christ.

            Her interrogators used psychological and abusive techniques to humiliate her by inferring that she was a prostitute and a sleezy girl that slept around with many men.

            “They attempted to force me to falsely confess to illicit sexual relations with men,” Fatemeh explained. “Their entire objective was to make this accusation stick and force me to make up a story about sexual relations for them to read and enjoy, which had nothing to do with my case!”

            This type of immoral interrogation and abusive techniques is frequently used by interrogators to force political prisoners, under severe duress, to confess to a crime that they never committed. It is also widely known that male guards engage in sexual abuse and rape against female prisoners on a regular basis. In this particular situation, the interrogators decided to instead subject Fatemeh to mental and spiritual torment.

            Once Fatemeh was released six months later on May 14, 2018, the abuse didn’t stop. The interrogators continued their mental assault on Fatemeh by calling her home several times and making the same accusations to her parents. They ended the conversation with a stern warning to the parents declaring, “It is best that you stop your daughter from her activities as the path she is on leads to corruption!”

            Fatemeh fought back by sending a letter to the court judges, complaining about the immoral techniques used against her because she was a woman, revealing they had shouted at her and kicked the legs of the chair that she was sitting on to force her to confess and put into writing that she had sexual relations with other men.

            Determined to get the attention of the proper authorities, Fatemeh staged a “sit-in protest” across from Evin Prison until somebody listened and processed her complaint. When that didn’t produce the desired result, she then made a video holding up a sign calling on Christians around the world to join her in calling on Iran to stop the violence against Christians.
            Instead of cowering in fear to the abuse by the prison interrogators and denying her Christian faith, Fatemeh has instead boldly stood up to her accusers calling on them to be held accountable for their immoral methods of persecution against her. Where does Fatemeh get such boldness to stand up in such a dangerous place to be a Christian? She gets her boldness from the teachings of God’s word which proclaims, “The wicked run away when no one is chasing them, but the godly are as bold as lions.” (Proverbs 28:1)

            Fatemeh can fearlessly confront the evil in Iran because Jesus has given her his boldness and strength, telling her not to be afraid, because he will never leave or forsake her. Two thousand years ago Jesus looked intently into the eyes of Peter who had just declared that he was the Christ and made a powerful promise that based on his confession of faith, “That he would build his church and the gates of hell would not prevail against it!” (Matthew 16:18)

            Jesus has empowered his church with supernatural power and protection against Satan and all of the forces of evil. Ahmadinejad boasted he would rid Iran of Christianity and 13 years later, Iran is instead overflowing with fearless warriors who have believed the promise of Christ that hell itself will never stop the powerful, life changing message of the gospel!