By Dan Van Veen
In letters recently sent to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Islamic Republic Leader Ayatollah Sayed Ali Khamenei, Assemblies of God General Superintendent George O. Wood has personally requested the release of several Christians currently being held by the Iranian government.
In the letters, Wood greets each leader with respect and dignity,
while also introducing himself as the leader of the Assemblies of
God in the United States and chairman of the World Assemblies of God Fellowship, combining to represent 64 million members. "I pray often for your nation," Wood writes.
After paying respect to the country of Iran through recognizing its prominent reference in the Bible, Wood states his letter is born out of concern for followers of Jesus who are being detained for reasons that violate the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that Iran has signed. He then requests the release of Rev. Farhad Sabok Rouh; his wife, Shahnaz Jizani; and two other members of the Assembly of God in Ahvaz, Iran, who were arrested on December 23, 2011. Wood follows this request by asking for the release of Rev. Youcef Nardarkhani, who has been held since October 2009 and faces execution.
"We have been encouraged by those knowledgeable of the
situation in Iran to make this request," Wood explains. "We've
been told that the more the world is made aware of this issue and the more the world voices its objection to Iranian leaders, the more likely Iran is to release these prisoners. So, we have prayerfully and respectfully fulfilled that request."
Wood says that the letters don't take the place of prayer, but he
believes the letters can work in cooperation with prayer. "Please
pray with me that God would use these letters to make such a
difference that it results in the soon release of our brothers and
sister," he says.
"We also need to lift up the persecuted church around the world."
Wood continues, urging churches to expand their prayers. "Few
Americans, if any, have first-hand experience with the extreme
persecution these men, women and children are facing on a daily basis."