Friday, August 17, 2012

Pastor Nadarkhani To Appear In Court After 1,060 Days In Prison

Christian Solidarity Worldwide, one of the organizations which has been closely following Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani's case, has updated their page with the following information:

A while ago we asked you to write to Pastor Nadarkhani to encourage him while he’s in prison. Unfortunately, it’s no longer safe for him to receive cards or letters – it could put him or his family in danger.
When we ask you to send cards and letters to encourage someone who’s in prison, the priority for us is to ensure their safety. We’ll only ask you to write to them if it’s safe for them to receive mail, and we constantly monitor their situation.
Thank you so much for the thousands of cards you’ve already sent to Pastor Nadarkhani! Please don’t write to him any more at the moment, but if things change, we’ll let you know. In the meantime – keep praying!

The American Center For Law and Justice's last update concerning the pastor is reporting that the Iranian government wants him back in court in less than a month, "on September 8, 2012 at 9:00 AM to answer for 'charges brought against him.' .... It is unclear whether the 'charges' referred to in the court summons will be his current apostasy charge or new, unknown charges. What is clear is that his new court date will come after more 1,060 days spent in prison for nothing but his faith in Jesus Christ – an imprisonment that violates Iran’s own constitution. The ACLJ is continuing to work with contacts in Iran, the State Department, and foreign diplomats to pressure Iran for the release of this persecuted pastor."

You can view the full details of the pastor's case by viewing the "Categories: Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani" section on the sidebar and also the new "Timeline(s) of Events" section. Keep lifting this pastor up in your prayers!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani: Recent Developments

Here are several interesting developments in Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani's case:

Firstly, the pastor's lawyer has been disbarred and sentenced to 9 years in prison and is being forced to "confess" to crimes that he is not guilty of (because he is "a world-renowned Muslim human rights attorney in Iran [who] founded the DHRC... to defend human rights in Iran"); this leaves Pastor Youcef without a legal representative in his case. Meanwhile, the lawyer remains firm in his commitment to not be moved by the pressure he is undergoing; he stated in part,

“Tomorrow [May 15] is my last day to either make television confessions or go to prison. I will go to prison, and I will not [be forced to] leave my homeland.” . . .
“They told me that if I didn’t confess, they would enforce my sentence. They talked to me for long periods of time and I did not accept it. I will say now that if one day I say things, they are not credible and I must have been under conditions where I was forced to say those things. I hope God maintains my power.”
The second piece of news is that a movie about Pastor Youcef is underway:
Iranian film director Nader Talebzadh is making a "documentary" about Pastor Youcef. One would hope that such a documentary would expose the truth about the persecution of Pastor Youcef.
However, Mr. Talebzadh has said he will work directly with the Iranian judiciary in producing the film. In announcing that he is in the beginning stages of the documentary, Mr. Talebzadh proclaimed that Pastor Youcef is a criminal and that his death sentence for apostasy is a lie propagated by western media. Clearly, Mr. Talebzadh has not reviewed the court’s verdict... because it clearly stated that Pastor Youcef's death sentence is solely for the charge of apostasy.....
Mr. Talebzadh also proclaimed that Pastor Youcef is not a Christian pastor; but of course, if this is true, then the regime lied before the United Nations Human Rights Council last March when the Head of Iran’s Human Rights Council, Mohammad Javad Larijani, stated three new charges against against Pastor Youcef. Each of the new charges concerned his preaching Christianity or building a church in his home.
One thing is for certain, Mr. Talebzadh, a man “known to make the films the Regime orders him to make,” will use his documentary as a smear campaign for the regime. In light of these new attempts to disgrace Pastor Youcef’s reputation, we must remain vigilant in our pursuit of his freedom. 

And lastly, there is some good news: Recently, the American Center for Law and Justice reported that Iranian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani has written a letter to the world regarding his situation. The letter reads in part:
...I would like to inform all of my beloved brothers and sisters that I am in perfect health in the flesh and spirit. And I try to have a little different approach from others to these days, and consider it as the day of exam and trial of my faith. And in these days which are hard in order to prove your loyalty and sincerity to God, I am trying to do the best in my power to stay right with what I have learned from God's commandments.
I need to remind my beloveds, though my trial due has been so long, and as in the flesh I wish these days to end, yet I have surrendered myself to God's will.
You can read the full letter here.

Yesterday, in an article entitled "Iranian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani Standing Firm in the Face of Persecution," Jordan Sekulow shared these thoughts:

While the Scriptures perpetually teach about the trials and tribulations of the persecuted, Nadarkhani is a real-life example, said the attorney, noting that persecution is the core of the Gospel....
While Nadarkhani is a very highlighted victim of persecution, Sekulow emphasized that much of the world still suffers from religious persecution.
"Much of the world's population still lives without religious freedom, especially religious minorities […] I think it's about a third of the world, so if you look at that statistic, I think we have to get out of our mindset as Americans," he said. "We haven't had to face those kinds of decisions in our own lives because we're blessed to be born in the United States of America."
"Persecuted Christians have a place in Scripture that is elevated above [all others]. These are the people who are really willing to risk everything, and give everything up on earth, because of their faith," Sekulow said of Nadarkhani and other persecuted people around the world.
As far as what other Christians can do to help the persecuted, Sekulow said supporters can take "advantage of modern society […] to never miss an opportunity to unite on these issues."