Iran House Church Couple Facing Prison

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent, Worthy News

(Worthy News) - Iranian Christians requested prayers Wednesday for Homayoun Zhaveh, 62, and his wife Sara Ahmadi, 42, as they were due to be summoned to prison for house church activities, Worthy News learned.

The couple who converted from Islam to Christianity was expected to start long prison terms in Iran’s notorious detention system, advocacy representatives said.

“On 14, March they were notified their case had been forwarded to the government department responsible for enforcing sentences,” confirmed rights group Middle East Concern (MEC).

“And they may be summoned at any time to serve the prison sentences,” despite health concerns, MEC added.

The prosecution reportedly began when Zhaveh, who suffers from advanced Parkinson’s disease, and his wife were detained with friends in Amol on the Caspian Sea. Iranian intelligence agents arrested them during their holiday in June 2019, rights activists said.

“After questioning, the other Christians were released,” but Zhaveh and Ahmadi “were detained, first in Amol, and then in Evin Prison in Tehran,” MEC recalled.


Zhaveh was released after a month, but his wife was held for 67 days, 33 in solitary confinement, “and subjected to severe psychological abuse,” MEC told Worthy News.

In November 2020, Zhaveh and Ahmadi got two and 11 years’ prison respectively for “house church membership” and their “leadership” role in the congregation, Christians said.

On December 30 last year, Ahmadi’s jail term was reduced to eight years on appeal, but the other sentences were upheld, said Christians familiar with the case.

In addition, they are banned from foreign travel or membership of any social or political group for two years after their release, Christians said. They are also required to perform six months’ community service at a center for the mentally disabled, MEC explained.

A lawyer involved in their defense, whose name wasn’t revealed, recalled that that “they have always insisted that they haven’t engaged in any actions against national security.”

The two Christians also didn’t “harbor any animosity or hostility towards the government,” the defense added in published remarks.


In remarks distributed by MEC, Iranian Christians said they urged the faith community to pray that “God will strengthen and encourage” the couple at “this difficult time.”

They also said they were praying that God “will keep them safe during the pandemic,” as especially Zhaveh is “at high risk on account of his age and poor health.”

The Christians made clear it was crucial to pray and urge “Iranian authorities to stop persecuting Christian converts” like the couple and allow “peaceful practice of their faith.”

Their prosecution comes amid mounting international concern about Christian converts' treatment in Iran, a strict Islamic nation. Several Christian leaders and other believers remain jailed in Iran, where authorities have expressed concern about the growing number of Muslims turning to Christianity.

“Over the past few decades, the Iranian church has experienced significant growth, unprecedented in the Muslim world,” said Elam Ministries, a mission group of Iranian church leaders.

“There are daily reports of Iranians coming to Christ across the region; people from all segments of society are being added to the church,” Elam added. “Conservative estimates are that at least 200,000 Iranians “have come to Christ,” but “some pastors believe the figure is closer to one million or more,” the group added.