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Iranian Officials Raid House Church in Tehran, Arrest Christian Converts

( [email protected] ) Sep 04, 2014 12:08 PM EDT

Iran's Christians
Iranian Christians Mark New Year 2014 at Sarkis Church in Tehran. 

The campaign against Christians in the Middle East continues, as two Christian converts were recently arrested when they gathered for prayer and Bible study in Tehran, Iran.

According to AssistNews, the two men have been identified as 28-year-old Mehdi Vaziri, a graphic designer and 27-year-old Amir Kian, a music graduate. Both are Christian converts and were gathering at the house to pray and study the Bible before it was raided by a group of Iranian officials .

"The raid happened when the owner of the house, where the house church service was being held, went out to guide two new believers to their gathering. When the authorities attacked, he was still out and because authorities still watch his house, he cannot return there," said a source, according to Mohabat News.

The two converts are being held in Iran's Ghezel-Hesar Prison, and will likely be charged with being a danger to national security, spying for foreigners, and apostasy--a crime punishable by death.

Because Iranian officials view the widespread growth of Christianity as a threat, authorities use arrests and governmental pressure to prohibit the growth of house churches. According to the latest UN report, at least 49 Christian are imprisoned in Iran for faith related charges. However, Mohabat News reports that this is only the number of publicized cases and is not the actual number of Iranian Christian prisoners.

"There are many more Christian prisoners whose cases are not publicized, in order to protect them and their families from threats posed by their interrogators," the article states. "They are cautioned strongly against contacting media representatives and international investigators."

Those who are not arrested are forced to flee the country; Bulgaria's State Agency for Refugees recently told Fox News, "The Iranian Christian community is growing in Sofia."

"Now there are 100 to 200 people from Iran here. They are running because of the existing regime in Iran, where they are being persecuted because of their religion."

Yet despite the extreme persecution, Iranian Christians hold onto hope that someday peace will be restored in the Middle East.

"We cannot live in our hometown now, because it is too violent," says Omid Salehi, who is currently living in Bulgaria after fleeing Iran along with his family earlier this year.

"But one day, peace will reign, and God's people will have won the battle."