Thursday, September 4, 2008

Churches in Mashhad

Saint Mesrop Church

There are only two churches in Mashhad as I know and heard. But only one of them is active, not all the days. I'm sorry to say that during past decade, several of christians (Armenians) have moved from this city because of some inconvenience they had with the government. To be honest, we have a limited freedom of religion here in Iran. Although we have Jews, Christians and Zoroasterians, but they are not enough free to preach their religion in the public. They can only do their religious practices in private places they have.

It was my first time visiting the churches in Mashhad. As I said only one of them is active, St Mesrop Church. The other one has been closed for a few years. After walking up and down in the streets, I finally found the St Mesrop. The door was closed. I pushed the doorbell. An old woman picked the phone and said: "Yes?"
Meead: "Excuse me, could you please open the door? I want to enter the church."
Woman: "Why? Who are you?"
Meead: "I just want to visit inside of the church."
Woman: "For what?"
Meead: "I like to take some photos."
Woman: "No."
Meead: "Oh why?"
Woman: "I said no."
Meead: "Sorry, but could you please come down to the door. I want to talk with you."
Woman: "No."
Meead: "Who is the servant of the church? I want to meet him."
Woman: "He is not home."
Meead: "When will he come back?"
Woman: "I don't know."
Meead: "Could you please tell me how and when I can meet him?"
Woman: "I told you I don't know. Go and come back next month, after Ramadan."
Meead: "Oh, I'll not be in Iran in the next month."
Woman: "It's your problem."
Meead: "Okay, thank you. Bye."

And she put down the phone. I got so upset that she didn't let me in even for a second to visit inside of the church, really sad! I looked around to see if any of their neighbors were there. Oh yes, there is a man there. I got close to him and asked him if he knows who is the servant of this church. He said that he knows him.
I asked him: "why they didn't let me in."
Man: "They prefer not to let muslims in. Muslims always cause them trouble. Why do you want to visit the church?"
Meead: "I just want to take some photos and visit the church for the first time."
Man: "They let several of you inside before but none of you never made any donation to the church. They just spent their time and energy to open the door for you and let you in and gave you lots of information. But at the end, all of you just say thank you, not more."

I thanked the man and came back in front of the church. I rised my head to look the building. What I saw was so sad. Most of the windows were broken. Did people really do that with the church? If yes ... I found the answer why the other church is closed and this one is not open everyday. I found the answer why christians have moved out from Mashhad. I can't believe they did that. Jesus!

I also have a bad news: Recently a christian, Ramtin Soodmand, has been arrested in Mashhad by an intelligent agancy. No one has any news about him after 12 days. Ramtin was only allowed a few days ago to contact his mother briefly by phone, at which time he informed his mother that he was in good health, but did not disclose any other information about his detention or the reason for his arrest.