By BosNewsLife Middle East Service with reporting by BosNewsLife's Stefan J. Bos
TEHRAN, IRAN (BosNewsLife)-- A jailed evangelical pastor in Iran says he has forgiven the prison guards who mistreated him and nearly 30 other inmates.
Farshid Fathi was among those attacked last Thursday, April 17, in Tehran's notorious Evin Prison, where he serves a six-year sentence on charges linked to his Christian activities.
"Of course, we forgive them for all they have done to us because we are the followers of the One who says ‘Father, please forgive them because they don't know what they are doing’," he wrote fellow believers in an Easter message obtained by BosNewsLife.
The 35-year-old father of two children apparently tried to help an injured inmate, but was stopped by one of the guards who allegedly stamped on Farshid’s bare foot with his heavy boot.
Fathi confirmed that he sustained a broken foot and toe in the confrontation. Guards initially denied him medical treatment, but changed their mind Easter Sunday when he was rushed to hospital, the pastor said.
CHAINED IN HOSPITAL
"After three days of pain, they finally took me chained and shackled to a hospital on Easter morning. Though I was in a dire pain, I took it as a gift from our Lord to get out of prison even for few hours," he wrote. "My left foot is [now] in a cast after they broke it last Thursday in violations they applied against helpless prisoners under the excuse of inspections," he explained.
“Today I celebrate our Lord's resurrection in a mixed feeling of joy and pain in a different way and in a different place," Fathi added. "So my dear friends, please in these days pray for me that I may know him and be found in him and the power of resurrection. Happy Easter,” he concluded.
Fathi has spent mostly behind bars since December 2010 when he was detained as part of a reported crackdown on Christians before New Year celebrations. He is currently serving a six-year sentence on charges including “actions against national security.”
Iranian Christians say he was persecuted for his open expression of Christian faith, such as leading a congregation. Authorities also charged the pastor with possessing "religious propaganda" after he had Bibles printed in the Farsi language and "unlawfully" distributed them, as well as possessing Christian literature, trial observers said.
His wife and two children were offered refuge by Canada in February 2013, after they fled to Turkey. Fathi is among several evangelical Christians and pastors being held in prisons at a time of concern among Iranian officials about the spread of Christianity in this heavily Islamic nation.