Authorities in Iran have punished a man with 34 lashes after he was unmasked as a Muslim convert to Christianity when a copy of the Gospel was found in his car.
The man, identified as A.Sh. on an Iranian web site representing Christian converts, was arrested after police searching his car, which had been involved in an accident, found the book printed in Farsi.
He was detained at a police station Number 102 in Tehran for two days where he was lashed and suffered "other humiliation", the site said.
Islam, Christianity, Judaism and Zoroastrianism are the only religions people in Iran are allowed to practice, however converting from Islam to one of the others is prohibited.
A former Islamic leader in Ethiopia has described how he found faith in Christ after Jesus appeared to him in a dream.
However, the conversion turned out to be the start of intense persecution from those begrudging his newly found faith.
Following Robel’s conversion, militants destroyed his house and stabbed his son with a spear. His life is now at risk, Release International reports, but even though he has been offered riches to return to Islam he has declared his determination to follow Jesus.
Robel was expelled from the mosque he helped to lead in 2003 for asking questions about Jesus, RI told Christian Today.
The morning after he saw Jesus in his dream, he committed his life to the Lord and started attending church.
He testifies: “After my conversion my house and all my property were burned. Several times the Muslims came to my house with a spear threatening us, trying to hurt someone.”
The militants stabbed Robel’s son with a spear, but the boy escaped serious injury, RI reports.
A year later, extremists burned his house again, and Robel was forced to leave the area without his family.
He explains: “I miss my family and my children are very, very small. I also worry about them, how they will live, because nobody is there to protect them. But I trust in the Lord to take care of our needs. One day He will reunite us, and we will be able to live together.”
Since his conversion, Islamists have tried to entice Robel back to Islam offering him the opportunity to go to Saudi Arabia for Islamic training and return to Ethiopia a wealthy man. But Robel refused, preferring poverty and to sleep in trees - with the freedom to choose his own faith still intact.
According to Voice of the Martyrs, Robel said: “People always seek the money and the wealth of the earth, but what I seek is from God."
Despite the pressure in Ethiopia, Christians in neighbouring Eritrea are fleeing there to escape persecution - which is even worse in their own country.
RI’s CEO Andy Dipper said: “Release International is providing practical support for Christian refugees now living in Ethiopia. This includes helping them to set up businesses and find work. Please pray for the strength of believers going through persecution in Ethiopia and in neighbouring Eritrea."