|(Map courtesy Wikipedia)|
"We want to thank God that these two women, these two believers are released. That is wonderful news to receive," says E3 Partners VP of Church and Ministry Partnerships and Middle East Strategy Director, Tom Doyle.
A few days ago, at least 11 political prisoners were released from Iran's notorious Evin Prison. Among them were believers Mitra Rahmati and Maryam Jalili, according to Mohabat News.
The women were sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison for sharing the Gospel with Muslims and "being members of a Christian group", the Mohabat article states.
"It is a good sign," Doyle adds, "but we know that Iran--their government--is very famous for kind of 'pandering to the press' when the pressure is on, and they're feeling that right now."
Iran's moderate Islamic president, Hassan Rohani, is scheduled to appear before the United Nations General Assembly next week. Rohani is expected to deliver a speech and raise diplomatic favor.
With U.S. Pastor Saeed Abedini and Pastor Farshid Fathi among those remaining within Evin's walls, the desperate need for prayer remains.
"When I heard prisoners were going to be released, we certainly prayed, but it didn't happen that two of the key ones were let go, so we need to just keep praying for them," says Doyle.
"It seems like they go harder after the leadership," he adds, explaining that Abedini and Fathi are viewed as "prized possessions" by Iranian officials.
"Pastor Saeed and Pastor Fathi had quite a network, and that's what [officials are] trying to do: break up any kind of network and [its] influence."
Pray for their release. Ask the Lord to keep them safe during their imprisonment.
"I never hear believers in Iran pray for persecution or hardship to end," Doyle notes.
"I've always heard them pray, 'Lord, just show us what we need to learn. You are God. You could've stopped this, so we conclude that there's a reason for it, so teach us everything that we need to know'."
For 25 years, E3 Partners has been sharing the Gospel with the Middle East and Central Asia (MECA). Doyle says they help persecuted believers in any and every way they can.
"Some of them have struggled financially; some of them are needing follow-up materials for new believers," he says.
One of E3's most recent projects is a small publication printed in the Farsi language, called "The Incredible Journey."
"It's just a small Bible survey that helps new believers navigate from Genesis to Revelation," Doyle explains. "Obviously, the Holy Spirit leads us, but we find that there are extra resources that we can get that can really help them as they're training this new, vibrant, fast-growing Church in Iran."
Learn more about E3's MECA program and how you can get involved.
"If people want to reach out and bless the Church in Iran, the leaders that need help with resources, materials, going to conferences, or help with feeding their family, they can get on E3Partners.org," says Doyle.
You can also get updates on Abedini, Fathi, and Iran's other persecuted believers on E3's 8thirty8 Facebook page.
"Informed prayer is critical," Doyle states. "We give updates of people who are either in prison, under persecution or in danger, whether it be Iran, Egypt, Syria.
"If believers get connected, they'll be a little bit more informed on their prayers, and that would really be helpful."
Pray for the Body of Christ in Iran.
"It amazes me the believers that go to underground churches and risk their lives, knowing that they might end up at a place like Evin Prison," says Doyle. "They want to share the Gospel, and that's why Iran is the fastest-growing Church in the world now, per capita.
"People are sharing the Gospel, but it's risky, and that's why we need to pray for them."