An Iranian pastor has been warned that, unless he denies Christ and returns to Islam, he will not be released, even after he has served his sentence.
A report from the Barnabas Fund has called on Christians worldwide to pray for Saeed Abedini, an Iranian-American pastor who is serving an eight-year prison sentence in Iran.
Iran is one of the persecution hotspots identified earlier this year by advocacy group Release International.
Mr Abedini was arrested in September 2012 on charges of planting house churches ‘intended to undermine national security’, and was convicted and sentenced in January.
At the time of his arrest, he had been living in the US with his family and had returned on a visit to Iran to try to establish an orphanage. His conviction relates to his work in starting a house-church movement after he became a Christian in 2000.
It is understood that, during his time in the Evin prison, he has been subjected to physical and psychological torture and repeated beatings that have left him with internal bleeding and other injuries.
It is alleged that Mr Abedini has been continually denied medical care — one nurse refused to treat him because he is an ‘unclean’ Christian.