Mohammad Bagher Yusefi converted to Christianity when he was 24 and became a greatly gifted member of the Iranian Church. He was an evangelist and song-writer, sometimes called “Ravanbakhsh” or “Soul-Giver”. Mohammad also became a pastor and by the time of his death in September 1996, he was leading churches in Ghaemshahr, Gorgan and Sari.
On 28 September 1996, he left home at 6 am. In the evening of that same day the Iranian authorities told his family that he was dead, and that he had committed suicide. His body was found hanging from a tree in a forest near Sari, capital of Iran’s Mazandaran Province.
Mohammad’s family and Christian friends were, however, in no doubt that he had been murdered, particularly as the authorities would not give up the body. They had previously refused to hand over the bodies of other murdered Iranian Christians in order to hide the evidence that they had been mutilated, stabbed many times or decapitated. Mohammad was 34 when he died, leaving behind his wife Akhtar, daughter Ramsina (9) and son Stephen (7).
Iranian Christians, especially converts from Islam, face severe persecution under the country’s strict Islamic regime. Nonetheless the Church is growing rapidly.
Upon this rock which you have confessed – upon myself, the Son of the living God – I will build my church. I will build you on myself, and not myself on you.
First published in Heroes of Our Faith by Patrick Sookhdeo, Isaac Publishing