ARP News Update

Urgent Prayer Request
Rev. Tat Stewart requests prayers for two Christian women recently arrested and imprisoned for following the teachings of Jesus. He writes:

According to reports received by the Farsi Christian News Network (FCNN), on March 5, 2009, two Iranian Christian women, Miss Marzieh Amirizadeh Esmaeilabad (30), and Miss Maryam Rustampoor (27), were arrested by Iranian security forces.

Their only crime is that they are committed Christians who follow the teachings of Jesus.  They are being unfairly labeled as anti-government activists, because of the hostility of the government towards practicing Christians.

Their shared apartment was searched and personal belongings confiscated.  They were handcuffed and first taken to the Police and Security Station 137 in Gysha, west of Tehran for interrogation.  Later they were taken to Vozara Detention Centre.  Then they were taken to the Branch 2 of the National Security Section of the Revolutionary Court.

Afterwards, several sessions of interrogation took place. Finally, on March 18, after appearing at the Revolutionary Court, they were sent to the notorious Evin Prison where they are being held without charge.

They have been told they could be freed on a bail of US$ 400,000. This excessive bail level is unrealistic and is designed to intimidate and make the release impossible. The families have subsequently been told on several occasions a judge is not available to discuss the case.

Both women are allowed just a one minute telephone call every day to their immediate families.  Both are unwell and in need of urgent medical attention. During their last call on March 28, Marzieh said that she was suffering from an infection and high fever.  She said, “I am dying.”

There has been a noted increase in government intimidation of the Christians.  Last year there were over 50 known cases of arrests and imprisonment.  There were some cases of torture.

Iranian Christian leaders from around the world are calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Marzieh and Maryam.

We ask world governments to put pressure on Iran to ensure freedom of religion.

Prayers are being offered for their safe release.

We ask Christians around the globe to continue to pray.

Senior Adult Retreat
A senior adult retreat will be held on May 7 at First Presbyterian Church (ARP), Columbia, SC, which coincides with the National Day of Prayer. Guest speakers include Outreach North America Director Alan Avera and Moderator Elect Dr. John R. de Witt. Those attending can choose from the following seminars:
•    South Carolina Historic Architecture by Andy Chandler of the SC Dept. of Archives.
•    What is a Care Team? By Missy Robelot, RN and Congregational Nurse.
•    The Economy by Richard Eckstrom, CPA and SC Comptroller.
•    Veterans Benefits and You by Marilyn Hempe of the Veterans Administration.
•    Container Gardening Made Easy by Master Gardeners Mary Wardlaw and Fay
•    Long Term Care Insurance by Tom Ryan.

Pastors or church senior adult representatives can make group reservations by April 17 by calling Julie Dever at First Presbyterian Church in Columbia at (803) 799-9062, ext. 244 or email Cost is $6 per person and includes lunch.