Prayers for Pastor Nadarkhani of Iran
In my seven years of working for Open Doors, never have I encountered a story of persecution that has affected me as much as that of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani. Yesterday, those who were praying for him were struck with the heart-breaking news that the final court had sentenced him to death. Even worse is that he can be executed at any point, without warning. It could be tomorrow or it could be 10 years from now…and there is a chance that his wife and children may not know until after he is executed.
The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms reports that Iranian authorities’ reaffirmed a death sentence for Iranian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani for the sole reason of his refusal to recant his Christian faith. This action is yet another shocking breach of Iran’s international obligations, its own constitution, and stated religious values. The United States stands in solidarity with Pastor Nadarkhani, his family, and all those who seek to practice their religion without fear of persecution—a fundamental and universal human right. The trial and sentencing process for Pastor Nadarkhani demonstrates the Iranian government’s total disregard for religious freedom, and further demonstrates Iran’s continuing violation of the universal rights of its citizens. The United States calls upon the Iranian authorities to immediately lift the sentence, release Pastor Nadarkhani, and demonstrate a commitment to basic, universal human rights, including freedom of religion. The United States renews its calls for people of conscience and governments around the world to reach out to Iranian authorities and demand Pastor Nadarkhani’s immediate release.
Now, more than ever, we need to pray for this dear brother, who has been so faithful to follow Christ, no matter what the circumstances are.
This past week I had the opportunity to go to the National Religious Broadcasters Convention in Nashville, Tennessee. Greg Laurie of Harvest Ministries was the Keynote speaker on Tuesday evening. He talked about heaven and how glorious it is going to be. He talked about people like Paul who had seen heaven and how once they had seen it, they longed to never leave it.
This sermon kept coming to mind as I read more and more reports about Pastor Nadarkhani. Even though it would be the most painful experience for his loved ones, he will be with Jesus. And just as importantly, I know that his faithfulness has been an amazing testimony….one that I believe will bring many to a saving relationship with Jesus.
*Photo: Present Truth Ministries