Before Jesus was arrested and crucified he met and ate with his disciples. He broke bread and poured them some wine. He said to them some familiar words – ‘this is my body, given for you – this is my blood, poured out for you – do this in remembrance of me…’ (Luke 22:19-20). Jesus was foretelling his death, asking them to remember him and act out his love when he was gone. For nearly 2,000 years followers of Jesus remember that meal – and those words – regularly, during communion.
Communion, or the Lord’s Supper is one of the most significant rituals in Christianity. It’s a time when we remember Jesus’ death and resurrection. It’s when we come back to the fact that God’s love is so big that nothing can condemn us. It’s about starting afresh and understanding His amazing grace.
But for some, the celebration of the Lord’s Supper isn’t so simple. Three Christian converts in Iran were arrested and sentenced to 80 lashes for drinking wine during a communion service last year. Yaser Mosibzadeh, Saheb Fadayee and Mohammad Reza Omidi were arrested on 13 May 2016, along with their pastor Yousef Nadarkhani, as they were celebrating communion. They have all been charged with acting against national security and have had two hearings, but a verdict is still pending. Yaser, Saheb and Mohammad Reza were also charged with consumption of alcohol for drinking wine at communion and sentenced on 10 September to receive 80 lashes each.
On 9 February the lawyer representing Yaser, Saheb and Mohammad Reza attended an appeal hearing on behalf of his clients and stressed the point that, as converts to Christianity, it is not illegal for them to drink wine because, although alcohol is prohibited for Muslims in Iran, it is permitted for Christians and other recognised minorities. The judge has said that he will deliver a verdict after 20 days and friends of the three men request prayer that the judge will overturn the sentence.
On 11 January MEC reported that the Revolutionary Guard had contacted these men and warned them against meeting together and sharing the gospel with others. They were threatened with immediate arrest and further charges.
We support people who are beaten, tortured,
imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.