Pastor Hussein Soodmand remembered, 20 years after his hanging

Pastor Hussein Soodmand remembered, 20 years after his hanging

Twenty years since the hanging of Iranian pastor Hussein Soodmand, a memorial service will be held on Saturday, 4 December, in London.

All members of British and Iranian churches have been invited.

Hussein remains the only person officially executed on charges of apostasy by the Iranian judicial authorities – for not denying his Christian faith.

Hussein was born on 30 June, 1951, in a religious family in the city of Mashhad.

He later explained that he had become interested in Christianity due to something that happened when he was seven years old.

Near his city was a village with mostly Jewish and Christian families. Every time the people from that village came to the local well, Hussein and his friends would call them najis (“unclean”).

One day, Hussein threw a stone at a Christian woman that hit her bucket and caused it to break. As the boys fled, Hussein fell and injured his leg, leaving him unable to run.

When he saw the Christian lady approaching him, he thought she would beat him. But to his astonishment the woman instead hugged him and washed his wounds.

Hussein said he had never forgotten the incident and that it had left him with a very positive image of Christians.

Hussein converted to Christianity during his military service in Ahvaz, through an Armenian Christian friend who cared for him when he became ill.

After his military service was complete, he returned to Mashhad, but when his family became aware of his faith, he was thrown out of the house, so he moved to Isfahan to work at the Christian hospital.

Near the hospital there was an institution for the blind, also run by Christians. Hussein visited the institute from time to time, and, at the age of 29, he married one of the students there, Mahtab Noravesh, who bore him four children.

Hussein continued to work at the Christian hospital in Isfahan and simultaneously served at the local church.

But with the start of the revolution and his expulsion from the Christian hospital in 1979, he and his family moved back to Mashhad, where they established a church in their home.

When others started to join the church, the pressure on Hussein increased and he was arrested and detained for a month, during which time he was told to either deny his Christian faith and stop evangelising, or be killed.

After being released on bail, other church leaders suggested that he and his family leave the country and relocate to Greece. But Hussein replied that God had called them to serve in Iran, and that even if it cost them their lives, they would remain loyal until the end.

A few weeks later, Hussein was re-arrested. Then on 3 December, 1990, his family was told that he had been hanged in Mashhad Prison. The government did not allow the family to have a memorial service but instead buried Hussein’s body in a wasteland in the suburbs.

Source: The Iranian Church of London