Saturday, September 08, 2012

Pray for Pastor Nadarkhani

Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani is expected to face a new trial today, Saturday 8th September, for crimes that are yet to be specified. According to sources, judges were reportedly instructed to formulate charges that would justify a maximum sentence. There are growing concerns that the charges may ultimately pertain to national security or even blasphemy. This would be in line with a recent tendency by the Iranian government to justify the arrest and imprisonment of church leaders by charging them with politically-related offences. Examples include Benham Irani, a Church of Iran pastor who was charged with ‘crimes against national security’ and ‘crimes against the order’, and Assemblies of God (AOG) pastor, Farshid Fathi Malayeri, accused of undertaking ‘action against the regime's security’, ‘being in contact with foreign organisations’ and ‘religious propaganda’.

Pastor Nadarkhani was arrested in his home city of Rasht in 2009 soon after questioning the Muslim monopoly of religious instruction for children, which he felt was unconstitutional. He was sentenced to death for apostasy in 2010, a decision that was upheld by the Supreme Court in 2011. Although the previous Iranian penal code did not specify death for apostasy, a constitutional loophole allowed judges to refer to Shari'a and authoritative fatwas to justify such a sentence. The current Iranian penal code does not specifically mention apostasy as a crime, but allows judges to continue utilising these sources in order to sentence defendants to death for apostasy.

The death sentence for apostasy handed out to Pastor Nadarkhani and currently awaiting a ruling by the Iranian Supreme Leader elicited widespread international protest and appeals to Iran to desist from carrying it out. There have been statements from the UK Government and in Parliament; the US White House and resolutions from Congress, the European Union, and perhaps of most significance to Iran, censure from the Brazilian Senate - Brazil being one of the few states maintaining links to Iran.

Today is a global day of prayer for the Pastor. There are legitimate concerns regarding the fairness of the trial, and also questions about the veracity of any charges that are leveled at this late stage. His Grace joins with those governments and groups all over the world which are calling for Pastor Nadarkhani’s immediate and unconditional release.

It looks as though the Iranian authorities are migrating from the death sentence for apostasy, and are now trying to bring secular charges relating to national security, simply as an alternative way of getting rid of him.

The charges are somewhat nebulous, and a copy of the summons to him in prison can be seen HERE. His Grace encourages all his readers and communicants to consider joining in the prayer cover being sought today, and to encourage other intercessors and friends to do the same. Christian Solidarity Worldwide have a more formalised prayer rota they are organising, but really any prayer by any means is the most important thing.

Prayer points which may help from CSW are:

1. That all charges against Pastor Nadarkhani would be dropped and that he would be swiftly released.
2. That the death sentence against Pastor Nadarkhani would be overturned.
3. For strength, peace and endurance for Pastor Nadarkhani.
4. That God would uphold and encourage his wife and children, giving them peace and comfort at this time.
5. That the Iranian authorities would be sympathetic when considering Pastor Nadarkhani's case.
6. For wisdom and discernment for Pastor Nadarkhani's legal team as they represent him.
7. For Pastor Nadarkhani's church as they await the outcome of the trial and news on his case.
8. For an end to religious and political repression in Iran.

It is worth considering the reply to another accusation in that part of the world:
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, 'O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the figure of gold you have set up (Dan 3:16-18).
and also what St Paul wrote to Timothy in a like situation:
At my first defence, no-one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them. But the Lord stood by my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the Lion's mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever" (2Tim 4:16-18).
It is a pretty awful situation, but prayer and publicity by so many as part of God's protection is probably why Youcef Nadarkhani is still alive and because of him and his case, other Christians have not been executed. God bless you praying for God to stand by Pastor Nadarkhani's side, and God bless and protect Youcef Nadarkhani.


Blogger john in cheshire said...

I pray that Pastor Nadarkhani is released unharmed from prison and that he and his family are allowed to practise their religion in Iran, free from persecution.

8 September 2012 at 11:29  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...


If I might suggest one further point of prayer: pray for his persecutors.

By imprisoning Pastor Nadarkhani, they have made their prison into the House of the Lord. Pray that it rings with praise to the Sovereign Lord. Pray for the Lord's messengers in that place, and pray for their witness to those who persecute them.

"“I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”" (Luke 19:40)

8 September 2012 at 11:43  
Blogger non mouse said...

Deo Gratias for the Pastor's example, Your Grace.

And thank you for reminding us of two extremely apposite quotations! In this situation, their power refreshes; it is also refreshed.

8 September 2012 at 17:50  
Blogger John Magee said...

To save his life I think Pastor Nadarkhani should get himself and his family on the first jet out of Tehran headed for the country of his choice in the West. He is toast if he stays in Iran.

Looking at his situation from another angle, because of his world wide notoriety, the authorities will likely not kill him for the time being. The Iranian leaders and mullah's will get some lunatic Jihadist to do their dirty work later by slitting Pastor Nadarkhani's throat some night in a dark alley. Or else blow him and his family to smithereens in their home with a car bomb.

Should Pastor Nadarkhani chose the path of martyrdom and stay in Iran he can be of enormous service and an inspiration to the growing underground churches there. Young Iranians are apparently looking for something other than the the total negativity and brutality they see around them every day in their country controlled by evil mullah thugs in the name of the nasty Koran. They don't want to die in the coming world war for their "Mahdi" (the Islamic messiah who is still in a deep in a well somewhere in southern Iran waiting to be reborn and lead Jiahd against Israel and the Christians).

Iranian young people and women are reading about Jesus, in his own words in the Gospels, for the first time and large numbers of them are becoming Christians.

They do this knowing if found out they can and most likely be killed.

The reality for Pastor Nadarkhani is that the authorities are waiting him to make the slightest "mistake" so they can nail him with new charges.

According to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime over three million Iranians use illegal drugs. Most use heroin and Iran is believed to have the world's heroin and crack cocaine problem. The population of Iran is about 75 million. If the same % of heroin and rack cocaine users in Iran is applied to the UK the number would be about 2.3 million heroin addicts. In the USA about 12 million heroin addicts.

It must be very said for these heroin users and for especialy sad their parents who love them and now see their beloved children's lives ruined by heroin.

I don't wish this curse upon any human being.

The heroin they use comes of course from the poppy fields next door to Iran in Muslim Afghanistan.

8 September 2012 at 18:22  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The disciples when under persecution did not pray to be delivered but prayed for boldness to preach the Gospel despite the very real presence of danger.All the disciples(except John)met violent deaths because they would not deny their beliefs.Many, many people have been martyred because they could not deny the truth of the Gospel and the reality of Jesus Christ our Living Saviour.

It takes real courage to make a stand for ones Christian beliefs especially in hostile environments and I am full of admiration for those with the courage to do so.

9 September 2012 at 21:29  

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