By BosNewsLife Middle East Service
TEHRAN, IRAN (BosNewsLife)– The pastor of a major evangelical house church network in Iran was free Friday, September 2, after a family member guaranteed the required bail money of 30,000 dollars, Christians with close knowledge about the case said.
Pastor Abdolreza ‘Matthias’ Haghnejad, of the evangelical Church of Iran denomination, was detained on blasphemy charges by Iranian authorities August 17 in the northern city of Rasht while making a pastoral visit, BosNewsLife reported earlier.
Haghnejad, from the nearby seaport city of Bandar-e Anzali, was held at a detention facility of the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and National Security without access to an attorney, said Present Truth Ministries (PTM), a mission group supporting him and other Christians in the region.
“A family member pledged their property so that he could get out of prison,” last weekend, explained PTM director Jason DeMars. Yet, he cautioned that the pastor is expected to be prosecuted for alleged “blasphemy against Islam”, a charge that could carry the death penalty under Iran’s strict Islamic regulations.
His health situation was not immediately clear Friday, September 2, after his imprisonment. “Typically, under these circumstances,” said DeMars,”pastors are being tortured in order to gain as much information as possible from them.”
Iranian officials did not comment or explain whether they would seek the death penalty or a long prison term.
News of Haghnejad’s release came shortly after Christians confirmed Wednesday,August 31, that Iran had freed Dutch-Iranian pastor Vahik Abrahamian after 359 days imprisonment on charges of spreading Christianity and relations with foreign groups.
PTM said however that it remains concerned about another ‘Church of Iran’ pastor,Youcef Nadarkhani, who faces the death penalty.
Youcef Nadarkhani, whose first name is also spelled as Yousef, was told in July by Iran’s Supreme Court that he can be executed if he does not recant his Christian faith and returns to Islam.
The case was send for “re-examination” to a lower court which already sentenced him to death.But in a letter written behind bars earlier this year, Nadarkhani said the Bible tells Christians to expect persecution and that he remains hopeful whatever the outcome of his trial.
The “Word of God tells us to expect to suffer hardship and dishonorfor the sake of His Name.”
“Our Christian confession is not acceptable if we ignore this statement, if we do not manifest the patience of the Lord in our sufferings,” he wrote.
DeMars said he urged his supporters to pray for Nadarkhani as”With God all things are possible.” Iranian authorities have detained Christians across the country as part of a crackdown on what they view as religious and political security threats to Iran’s Islamic values.
Officials have also expressed concerns about the spread of Christianity in the country at a time of upheaval across the Arab world. (With reporting by BosNewsLife’s Stefan J. Bos and Joseph DeCaro).
We ‘r still praying for brother Nadarkhani.
Shalom and love to all my dear beloved sisters and brothers in CHRIST, may you stay strong and be of good cheer, JESUS is coming soon to take us home
Praying for Bro Nadarkhani for his release from prison