For the past three years, millions of Christians worldwide have been praying for Youcef Nadarkhani and our prayers have been answered.
Youcef lives in Iran and grew up in a Muslim family as do most Iranians. What made him different is that he converted to Christianity and became a pastor in his own country. It didn’t take long for the Iranian government to bringing charges against Youcef for apostasy and blaspheming Islam. These charges carry a death penalty if convicted.
Indeed, the Iranian court took little time to convict Youcef and sentenced him to death. While a cry for prayer went out to the worldwide Christian community, our government did little to save this Christian from certain death. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton did speak out against Iran on Youcef’s behalf, but I never recall hearing our supposed Christian president say one word about it.
Youcef could easily have avoided prison and the death sentence by recanting his Christian faith and once again embracing Islam. However, he knew that to save his life would cost him his eternal life, so he stood firm in his faith and said he was willing to die for Christ as Christ died for him.
This past Saturday, Youcef was once again called into an Iranian court. After six hours of hearings, Youcef was acquitted of the apostasy charges that had been brought against him. The court did find him guilty of evangelizing to Muslims and sentenced him to three years in prison. In a move that further shocked the world, the court counted his time served as fulfilling his sentence and Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani was released from prison and set free.
Even though Youcef has been freed and allowed to see his wife and kids for the first time in three years, his future is still uncertain. Muslims in Iran take their religion very seriously and I would not be surprised if some of them try to take justice in their own hands and look to perform an honor killing of Youcef. As long as he remains in Iran, his safety is very much in peril. It would also not surprise me if the Iranian government purposely released Youcef to save face with the rest of the world and then to secretly hire someone to murder Youcef. That way they could still carry out their death sentence without being blamed for his death.
There has been no other news out of Iran concerning Youcef’s future at this time. I do not know if he plans on remaining in Iran or if he will seek to leave the country with his family and go somewhere else where he can preach the Gospel more freely.
Please continue to pray for his safety and that of this family as well as the others that still remain in the Iranian prisons on similar charges. Pray that God will lead Youcef to where He wants him to serve and that many will come to know the saving faith of Jesus Christ through Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani’s example and teaching.