You would hardly know it, if you had been depending on news some of the news outlets which have been very slow on the draw to keep you informed, but the eyes of thousands of people around the world have been watching for news from Iran where a Christian pastor, Yousef Nadarkhani, is facing execution because he refuses to turn away from following Jesus Christ.
Several times this week he has been asked to recant his Christian faith. He refuses to do so.
Despite optimistic reports coming out of Iran earlier today, Pastor Nadarkhani’s life is very much in the balance as he (and thousands of people around the world) await the final verdict of the court.
Christian Solidarity Worldwide have been doing a great job of keeping us up to date with this story. Here is their summary of the case:
Pastor Nadarkhani was arrested in October 2009 while attempting to register his church. He was tried and found guilty of apostasy (abandoning Islam) in September 2010. He has been sentenced to death.
The Supreme Court recently asked for a re-examination of his case to establish whether or not he had been a practising Muslim adult before he converted to Christianity. However, the court ruled he wasn’t a practising Muslim, but is still guilty of apostasy because he has Muslim ancestry.
The death sentence isn’t specifically prescribed for apostasy under Iranian law so the Rasht court used a loophole in the constitution and based their verdict on fatwas (religious rulings) by the “father” of Iran’s revolution in 1979, currently Iran’s most influential religious leader.
CSW have facilitated the possibility of emailing the Iranian embassy – over 21,000 people have done this already. If you have not done so, here is the link to CSW’s page where you can take a few minutes to add your voice of concern.
You could also contact your MP/Congressman to ask him or her to encourage your government to exert its influence on the Iranian authorities. It is unfortunate to note that some in high places have been very slow to take this case under their notice.
Christians have a responsibility not to forget.
Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.
CSW suggests praying along these lines:
- For God to stay the hand and change the hearts of the Iranian judiciary, that they would reconsider the death sentence handed down.
- That the international community would swiftly take decisive and effective action on behalf of Pastor Nadarkhani.
- That God would uphold Pastor Nadarkhani.
- For peace, strength and comfort for Pastor Nadarkhani’s family.
- For wisdom and eloquencefor Pastor Nadarkhani’s lawyer who is also facing legal difficulties.
- That God would comfort members of Pastor Nadarkhani’s church and denomination.
- That Iranian Christians would not be bound by fear and would keep their eyes fixed firmly on God.