(CNSNews.com) – Iranian Christian pastor Farshid Fathi, imprisoned for his faith five years ago, was released from prison on Monday, two years before the end of a seven-year sentence.
Fathi has been incarcerated in Iran’s notorious Evin prison since December 26, 2010, according to the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ). The regime reportedly argued that his Christian activities were equivalent to “actions against national security.” He was separated from his wife Leila and two children, Rosana and Bardia.
Fathi’s initial six-year prison sentence was extended to seven years according to World Watch Monitor. He was due to be released in Dec. 2017 but learned from prison officials last July that he would be released this year.
Elam, an Iranian church working to secure Farshid’s release, said it was “overjoyed and celebrating” the news.
“We are deeply grateful for your faithful prayers for Farshid while he has been in prison. We would like to request that you continue praying for Farshid today and in the coming weeks. Please pray especially for protection, his family and his adjustment to life outside prison,” Elam executive director David Yeghnazar said in a statement.
“We will share more information when possible.” he added.
Elam was founded in 1990 by senior Iranian church leaders “with a vision to serve the growing church in the Iran region.”
Elam Ministries also ran the Free Farshid website which posted letters from the pastor while he was in prison.
“We are celebrating Christmas in prison with honor and unexplainable joy in Christ.” Pastor Fathi said in a 2013 Christmas message.
“God calls us to walk before him and be blameless, as he said to Abraham. So far, walking before him is very sweet and so exciting.” Fathi wrote at the time.
“It is filled with great endurance, afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, sleepless nights, hunger, purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love, truthful speech and the power of God.”
The ACLJ, while celebrating Fathi’s early release, is encouraging prayers and support for 91 Christians who remain imprisoned in Iran, including American pastor, Saeed Abedini.