Imprisoned Iranian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani wrote a letter he was able to send out of prison to Present Truth Ministries, a group that advocates for rights of persecuted Christians. We covered Pastor Youcef’s story last year describing how he was imprisoned in 2009 for his Christian faith and now faces the death penalty. Since then, Nadarkhani has become one of the few persecuted Christians to receive major media attention as news outlets, the White House, State Department and other government officials have demanded his release. In his letter (reprinted below), Nadarkhani expressed his faith in Christ and appreciation for the support and prayers he has received.
Nadarkhani, 34, was arrested in Oct. 2009 for protesting the mandatory teaching of Islam at his children’s schools. His charges were later changed to apostasy and attempting to evangelize Muslims. The Iranian courts ruled:
“He has often participated in Christian worship and organized home church services, evangelizing and has been baptized and baptized others, converting Muslims to Christianity. He has been accused of breaking Islamic Law that from puberty (15 years according to Islamic law) until the age of 19 the year 1996, he was raised a Muslim in a Muslim home.
“During court trials, he denied the prophecy of Mohammad and the authority of Islam. He has stated that he is a Christian and no longer Muslim. During many sessions in court with the presence of his attorney and a judge, he has been sentenced to execution by hanging according to article 8 of Tahrir–olvasileh.” (source)
Last September, when offered a chance to have his charges dropped if he would renounce his faith in Christ, Nadarkhani refused. Despite much international protest and legal assistance his fate has worsened recently, as the American Center for Law and Justice received notification in Feb. 2012 that Nadarkhani had received an execution order from Iran’s high court. According to reports, now even his attorney is in trouble with the Iranian law:
Most recently, Nadarkhani’s attorney, Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, received notification from a judge that he must serve a nine-year sentence for “acting against the national security, spreading propaganda against the regime and keeping banned books at home.”
Dadkhah is one of the few lawyers willing to represent Nadarkhani, due to the sensitivity of his case, and therefore his arrest would cause Nadarkhani’s situation to grow dire quickly as he would have no legal representation. (source)
And thus the persecution of Christians across the globe rages on. More and more believers are being targeted for arrest, harm or even death just for their faith in Jesus Christ. Pray for Nardarkhani, his attorney and his family, who eagerly await his release. And for his faith to remain strong as his earthly life hangs in the balance. Regardless of the outcome, his soul is eternally safe with Jesus.
“The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” – Romans 8:16-18
Below is Nadarkhani’s letter to Present Truth Ministries, May 7, 2012:
Greetings from your servant and younger brother in Christ, Youcef Nadarkhani.
To: All those who are concerned and worried about my current situation.
First, I would like to inform all of my beloved brothers and sisters that I am in perfect health in the flesh and spirit. And I try to have a little different approach from others to these days, and consider it as the day of exam and trial of my faith. And during these days which are hard in order to prove your loyalty and sincerity to God, I am trying to do the best in my power to stay right with what I have learned from God’s commandments. I need to remind my beloveds, though my trial due has been so long, and as in the flesh I wish these days to end, yet I have surrendered myself to God’s will.
I am neither a political person nor do I know about political complicity, but I know that while there are many things in common between different cultures, there are also differences between these cultures around the world which can result in criticism, which most of the times response to this criticisms will be harsh and as a result will lengthen our problems.
From time to time I am informed about the news which is spreading in the media about my current situation, for instance being supported by various churches and famous politicians who have asked for my release, or campaigns and human rights activities which are going on against the charges which are applied to me. I do believe that these kind of activities can be very helpful in order to reach freedom, and respecting human rights in a right way can bring forth positive results.
I want to appreciate all those are trying to reach this goal. But at the other hand, I’d like to announce my disagreement with the insulting activities which cause stress and trouble, which unfortunately are done with the justification (excuse) of defending human rights and freedom, for the results are so clear and obvious for me.
I try to be humble and obedient to those who are in power, obedience to those in authority which God has granted to the officials of my country, and pray for them to rule the country according to the will of God and be successful in doing this. For I know in this way I have obeyed God’s word. I try to obey along with those whom I see in a common situation with me. They never had any complaint, but just let the power of God be manifested in their lives, and though sometimes we read that they have used this right to defend themselves, for they had this right, I am not an exception as well and have used all possibilities and so forth and am waiting for the final result.
So I ask all the beloved ones to pray for me as the holy word has said. At the end I hope my freedom will be prepared as soon as possible, as the authorities of my country will do with free will according to their law and commandments which are answerable to.
May God’s Grace and Mercy be upon you now and forever. Amen.