Convert from Islam Flees Iranian Authorities’ Torture, Threats
Christian goes into hiding after secret police learn of his activities.
ISTANBUL, Nov. 22, 2013 (Morning Star News) – The young woman in Tehran, Iran who introduced her boyfriend to Jesus hasn’t seen him since he fled the city, but his dreams give her hope that he is well.
The Iranian woman has heard that since Armin Davoodi fled authorities who threatened him with death for proclaiming Christ earlier this year, he has been having the same recurring dream he had before he put his faith in Christ and stopped his drug addiction and suicide attempts. She was the one who, two years ago, first explained to him that the shepherd in his dream pointing toward the light was Christ.
Like Davoodi, the young woman (name withheld for security reasons) is also an ex-drug addict and convert from Islam. She met Davoodi in a Tehran rehabilitation center where she worked as a volunteer who taught painting therapy.
“They fell in love, and she told him about her conversion and her belief and the wonders of Lord Jesus,” said a friend. “He told her about the dream, and she knew immediately the meaning of this holy dream and told him to be patient because ‘someone is watching over you and loves you.'”
Davoodi eventually accompanied her to an underground church.
“After five months he converted too, and he never used any drugs again,” the friend said. “Also, he never smoked anything again. He became a true believer and devoted his life to the Lord Jesus and chose to evangelize. He wanted to save lives and souls.”
In Iran, which is nearly 99 percent Muslim according to Operation World, courts can impose the death sentence on Muslim men who leave Islam and life imprisonment on women apostates. The young man who once wondered about the mysterious forces that seemed to save him from two suicide attempts now lives in hiding, but he tells Christians he is not afraid of the death that authorities said awaits him if he continues to tell Muslims about Christ.
After Iran’s secret service learned he was evangelizing in the Christian rehabilitation center, Davoodi was falsely convicted of selling drugs in the facility and was sentenced to prison. His probation officer also told him he would face death if he failed to show up for his weekly meeting with him.
“Unfortunately, the secret police got a tip from someone inside the rehab center about his evangelism activities and arrested Armin,” the friend said. “He was beaten and tortured very badly. Since then he has very bad headaches that keep him from functioning for a couple of hours.”
Police also went to his home and temporarily arrested Davoodi’s parents, besides confiscating his personal computer and books, including Bibles he used to take to the rehabilitation center.
“Armin gave police wrong church address information, and that’s why they beat him badly, but they could not break him, because he knew that he has a Protector, and it really helped him to survive in jail,” the friend said. “‘So Jesus saved me again,’ he told everybody when he got released after a while.”
Without evidence for a conviction with a longer sentence, a judge delivered a five-month prison term to Davoodi on charges not only of drug-dealing but activities against religion and being a danger to the government and Islam.
Relatives with strong mosque and secret police connections were able to get him released sooner under numerous conditions, including a requirement that he state in writing that Christians had misled him into the faith and an admission that he sold large amounts of drugs in the rehab center. His parents paid “a lot of money” for his release, the friend added.
“He promised and wrote down also that he was never going to church and never talking with other Muslims about the gospel, and that if he did, he will get his real punishment, execution, so he had no other choice but to go with their proposal to get released,” he said. “He had to see his probation officer at the secret police office once a week, and if he didn’t appear, then he was considered outlawed and had to fear for his life.”
Davoodi’s brother-in-law told him that if he detected any Christian activities, he would call his probation officer. Davoodi’s parents received phone calls from people calling them anti-Islamic and drug barons. Muslims who heard that he had returned to drugs, and that he was working as a convert from Islam paid by the church, beat him in front of his home. Neighbors did nothing to help him.
He was unable to reclaim his previous job at a rehab center where he had successfully led many people out of drug addiction, and the night school where he had been studying social work sent him a letter saying he was no longer qualified to attend.
“He was monitored and shadowed at home by his brother-in-law, in his neighborhood area by almost everybody and sometimes by secret police and militia,” the friend said.
Davoodi eventually found another job in a private rehabilitation center outside Tehran.
“He did everything very secretly, because he was aware of the consequences if they catch him again, but he had already chosen his way of life and did not fear anything, even death,” the friend said. “Everything went okay, and he was able to help a couple of addicted people by giving them the Holy Bible, taking some of them to one of the secret addresses for Bible studies and helping them to convert. He did it very carefully.”
Family members of one of the addicts who had received a Bible from Davoodi, however, visited their relative at the center and asked him how he obtained it. When they got no answer, they called a security officer at the center. Secret police forced the addict to tell them about Davoodi’s activities and the underground church.
A Christian co-worker at the center took notice and sent a text message to Davoodi telling him not to come to work and to try to leave the city. Davoodi has been in hiding since then.
“Nobody knew where he was hidden, that’s why we were worried and knew that he was in danger,” the friend said. “Everybody thought that he was arrested and was in jail.”
Secret police visited his parents, searched the house without a warrant, and took personal property again – computer, books and DVD recorder – and beat his father because of his objections. They found Bibles in the basement and took them as evidence.
The probation officer goes daily to Davoodi’s family-run bakery and threatens to close it as punishment for failing to persuade the fugitive to turn himself in, the friend said.
“But Armin’s dad knows that his son will never do this, because this time the police will never let him go,” he said. “In Iran, these cases are very usual, and we see them on TV and the news.”
Every week, vandals break the windows of Davoodi’s family home; they hope to leave the area and move into an apartment.
“The world should know about the situation of converted Iranians,” the friend said. “We cannot understand why they are afraid of giving freedom of religion to us.”
Earlier this year, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom recommended that Iran be designated as a Country of Particular Concern for its “systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom, including prolonged detention, torture, and executions based primarily or entirely upon the religion of the accused.”
Noting that many parents of imprisoned children in Iran inquire daily about their whereabouts and welfare and never receive an answer, the friend was thankful that Davoodi is not incarcerated but said he needs prayers for power to survive.
“He called one of his friends and said not to worry,” he said, “because he sees every night the old shepherd dream again.”
Photo: Marks of Armin Davoodi’s interrogation by authorities in Iran. (Morning Star News)