IRAN: Christian leader stabbed to death

Ghorban Tourani, aged 50, was kidnapped in late November from his home in northeastern Iran and stabbed to death, his bleeding body thrown in front of his home a few hours later. Ghorban, who was of Turkmen race, was pastoring an independent house church of convert Christians in Gonbad-e-Kavus. Within hours of his murder, local secret police arrived at the pastor’s home, searching for Bibles and other banned Christian books in the Farsi language.

“Ghorban was a very brave and fearless Christian,” an Iranian pastor commented. “He would boldly share about Jesus in different places, in the streets, shops and bazaars. He was convinced that he should not keep his faith to himself, but should share it with others everywhere.”

As a result, fanatic Muslims from his community had threatened him, and his own brother once slashed his face with a knife. Nevertheless, dozens of Turkmen in his city and outlying areas came to faith in Christ through Tourani’s witness and ministry.

The Iranian government has told his family that local Muslims who were “angry about his conversion” apparently murdered him. In his teens, Ghorban had ambitions to become a Muslim cleric but he later became disillusioned with Islam and embraced Marxism. After his marriage, he moved across the border to Turkmenistan (then part of the Soviet Union). In 1983, he was imprisoned for 15 years for manslaughter. While in prison, he became a Christian following the witness of a fellow-prisoner who was in jail because of his faith.

After his release in 1998, he returned home and began to share the Gospel of Jesus with his relatives, friends and other members of his Turkmen tribe.

In a poem written in 2004, Ghorban wrote:

Lord Jesus, please let me glorify your holy name in every moment of my life on this earth.

I am willing to give my life that belongs to you, for the sake of you and your church. (Compass)