Pastor Sentenced to Execution | Benham Companies
In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. – 2 Timothy 3:12-13
An Iranian trial court may have handed down a final execution order for Youcef Nadarkhani, an Iranian Pastor, according to reports yesterday by American Center for Law and Justice and Fox News.
Nadarkhani pastors a network of house churches for the Protestant Evangelical Church of Iran in Rasht, a town about 150 miles north-west of Tehran. Fox News reported, “He was arrested over two years ago for leaving Islamic faith and converting to Christianity. Although Iranian Government officials claim other charges for the arrest and imprisonment of Nadarkhani, in late 2011 CNN translated official Iranian Supreme Court briefs that clearly read, "Nadarkhani is convicted of turning his back on Islam, the greatest religion the prophesy of Mohammad at the age of 19,"
Nadarkhani, who has not seen his family or attorneys for years, may be executed at any time without prior warning since death sentences in Iran may be carried out immediately or dragged out for years. Fox News and other Iranian watchers have feared that Nadarkhani's pending execution may be in retaliation as Iran endures crippling international sanctions and pressure in conjunction with their controversial nuclear agenda. The number of executions in Iran has increased significantly in the last month and over 200 Christians have been arrested in the last six months.
The International Christian Concern reported that Nadarkhani was first imprisoned in December 2006, on the charges of apostasy from and evangelism to Muslims. He was released two weeks later, without being formally charged. Nadarkhani continued to pastor and lead the local church. In 2009 he protested against a change to an Iranian educational policy that forced all students, including his children, to read from the Quran. This appeared to be in direct contrast to the Iranian constitution which guarantees freedom to practice religion. Nadarkhani was arrested and appeared before a tribunal for his protests. He was later officially charged with the prior apostasy charges.
Since his imprisonment the Iranian police and courts have been on a relentless pursuit to persuade Nadarkhani to renounce his Christianity and return to the Muslim faith. They have arrested his wife and sentenced her to death in an attempt to see Nadarkhani renounce his faith. The American Center for Law and Justice reported last fall, “Nadarkhani had been given three previous chances in court to recant his faith in Christ and again before the latest ruling he stood firm refused to recognize Mohammad as a prophet or denounce his faith in Christ.”
Pray for Youcef Nadarkhani, his family and the church in Iran. Show your support for his courageous stand for Christ on Twitter with hash tag #Nadarkhani.