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December 29, 2003
I am travelling today and do not have time to make a “proper” post, so instead I will post this news article I received from Middle East Reformed Fellowship. I have no verification if this is true, but don’t see any reason to doubt it at this point.
The latest update we have from Iran indicates that 28 brethren were gathered for an underground Christmas service in house near the center of the earthquake devastated town. Sadly, all houses in the area totally collapsed. All 28 believers, who were Muslim converts died under the rubble of the house. Nineteen of them have been identified. Muslim family member arranged for Islamic burial services for them. The rest have not been identified and have apparently been included in a mass burial service (also according to Islamic rituals).
One of the elders of that church (and his wife) was holding another underground meeting in a village about 60 miles away. Their lives have been preserved but they extremely shaken by the atmosphere of death which surrounds them.
The earthquake area has in recent years seen growing numbers of conversions. There has not been a recognized church of any kind in the area for more than 600 years. It is now estimated that more than 31,000 people were killed as a result of the earthquake. It is not yet clear whether any other believers were among them. The public communication network as well as electrical and water systems in the area have been destroyed. The government, however, has restored some of the mobile/cellular phone towers. We hope that this will speed up the updates we receive. (Iranian believers avoid making contact with each other over land-based phone lines which are normally monitored by the religious police. They use temporary, unidentifiable mobile/cellular phone cards.)
As we await further details about other brethren in the area, please join in praying for them, for the loved ones of those who died and for testimony of the proclamation of the Gospel and building of the church in the area.