British military service members recently released after they were kidnapped by Iran and held hostage for nearly two weeks are revealing stories of threats and terror they suffered during their captivity. Now the Christian ministry Voice of the Martyrs is confirming Iran treats its own citizens the same way – if they are Christian.
One of the British service members, Faye Turney, reported after being returned to Great Britain that one of her captors rubbed her head and said, “Just you now,” when she asked about her colleagues.
Another time, a jailor came in to measure her from head to foot, while she was listening to sawing and hammering going on nearby. She said she thought her coffin was being prepared.
Iran’s pressure on the service members, and their manipulation for Iranian interests, continued when President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced plans to release them, as a “gift” to Britain.
Turney later told reporters she “felt like a traitor” when she complied with demands to write letters of confession that were used as propaganda on Iranian television. The service members reported they were constantly subjected to psychological pressure for the two-week period.
Voice of the Martyrs, however, said this is a regular routine for Iranians who refuse government demands to renounce Christianity.
Sources for the Christian organization say threats, interrogations, beatings and even malicious attacks are routine parts of attempts by the Iranian government to silence Christians who continue to spread the gospel of Jesus.
“Reportedly, Iranian officials treated British sailors … very well,” the group said. The prisoners were filmed eating, watching television and laughing and joking, although the service members later explained that was staged for international publicity.
“Government officials have not been nearly as cordial to their own citizens who follow Jesus Christ,” VOM said.
An Iranian source recently reported to VOM that a woman named “Azedeh” was abducted by government officials while she was returning from visiting a family new in Christianity.
“Azedeh was threatened, interrogated and forced to deny Christ. She refused and was eventually released,” the source told VOM. “As Azedeh and her sister continued evangelizing, the government randomly summoned them once or twice a month for interrogations and threats.
“Many times the government demanded the sisters deny Christ, or turn in other Christians, but the sisters refused,” the source reported.
And when the sisters were not being watched by government agents, “their neighbors reported their activities to police. They were beaten many times, even attacked with a knife,” VOM’s source said.
Eventually, their landlord evicted them, the report said, so VOM helped them relocate to a different, hopefully safer, region in the nation.
“Their lives have changed. They are now able to continue their ministry and are doing more evangelism,” the source reported. “They thank their brothers and sisters in the United States who are praying for them and thinking of them. Knowing there are people around the world praying and encouraging them warms their hearts.”
Voice of the Martyrs simply asked that faithful believers pray that God provides Christians in Iran “the boldness to remain faithful and continue sharing the gospel.”
Voice of the Martyrs
is a non-profit, interdenominational ministry working worldwide to help Christians who are persecuted for their faith, and to educate the world about that persecution. Its headquarters are in Bartlesville, Okla., and it has 30 affiliated international offices.
It was launched by the late Richard and Sabina Wurmbrand, who started smuggling Russian Gospels into Russia in 1947, just months before Richard was abducted and imprisoned in Romania where he was tortured for his refusal to recant Christianity.
He eventually was released in 1964 and the next year he testified about the persecution of Christians before the U.S. Senate’s Internal Security Subcommittee, stripping to the waist to show the deep torture wound scars on his body.
The group that later was renamed The Voice of the Martyrs was organized in 1967, when his book, “Tortured for Christ,” was released.