Date: March 21, 2020
‘For in the day of trouble, he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock.’ Psalm 27:5
With fear and uncertainty rising around the world in the face of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak, the words of Psalm 27 provide us with a much-needed place of rest, reassurance and refuge. We rest in the certain knowledge that we find shelter and refuge in the presence of God. We know that we will face suffering, trials and battles in this life, yet we stand secure on a foundation of faith that our God promises never to leave us or forsake us.
It’s this foundation upon which we stand this week, as we remember religious minorities in the many countries on which we work, who could become even more vulnerable in the current crisis.
In particular, we pray for the many Christians imprisoned in Iran, which has seen one of the worst national outbreaks of COVID-19 outside China. You may have seen the news that over 85,000 prisoners have been temporarily released amid fears of the coronavirus spreading through Iran’s prisons. According to reports, those with sentences of under five years have been temporarily released, but those ‘with heavier sentences and those linked to their participation in anti-government protests’ (according to a judiciary spokesperson) remain in prison.
CSW’s sources have raised concerns that the Iranian authorities are not taking appropriate measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in prisons. Our team are working hard to get the latest information about the health and status of a number of Iranian Christians in prison, including Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani, Pastor Matthias Haghnejad and eight other members of the Church of Iran denomination, all of whom were given lengthy prison sentences on unfounded national security charges.
Please take a moment this week to uphold those in prison in prayer and to ask God to bless the work of our team as they seek to continue to be a voice for Iran’s religious minorities in the midst of this current crisis.
In summary, please pray:
- For the health and protection of all Christians imprisoned in Iran at the moment, including Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani and Pastor Matthias Hagnejad.
- For CSW’s advocacy team as they continue to support and speak up for Iran’s religious minorities in this crisis.
- That the Iranian authorities would take appropriate measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Iran’s prisons.