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Iranian pastor faces execution

Dr. Jim Denison is the CEO of Denison Forum.
His Daily Article and podcast globally reach over 160,000 subscribers. Dr. Denison guides readers to discern today’s news—biblically. He is the author of multiple books and has taught on the philosophy of religion and apologetics at several seminaries. Prior to launching Denison Forum in 2009, he pastored churches in Texas and Georgia. He holds a Ph.D and a Master of Divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Jim and his wife, Janet, live in Dallas, Texas. They have two sons and four grandchildren.

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Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani is seen here in prison in Lakan, Iran. Nadarkhani faces execution for refusing to recant his Christian faith (Credit: American Center for Law and Justice)

Youcef Nadarkhani, widely considered the face of religious persecution today, has written a letter to supporters from prison.  The Iranian pastor was arrested on October 13, 2009 and charged with apostasy and attempting to evangelize Muslims.  He has been separated from his wife and two sons ever since.  In February of this year, he was issued an execution order from Iran’s high court.

His attorney, Mohammed Ali Dadkhah, has been fighting for him since his arrest.  Now Dadkhah has been sentenced to nine years in prison.  His arrest will make Nadarkhani’s situation even more perilous, as the pastor will have no legal representation.

What can we do to help?  Here’s what not to do: Terry Jones, the Florida pastor whose Qur’an burnings have sparked massive riots, has burned another Qur’an to protest Nadarkhani’s imprisonment.  What does the Iranian pastor think of such tactics?  His letter states, “I’d like to announce my disagreement with the insulting activities which cause stress and trouble, which unfortunately are done with the justification of defending human rights and freedom, for the results are so clear and obvious for me.”

What should we do?  First, believers must stand courageously for truth.  Here we are challenged by the examples of Pastor Youcef and of attorney Dadkhah as well–the latter is not a Christian, but he has devoted his life to defending Christians and others persecuted by Iran for their beliefs.  The prison to which he could now be sent is so notorious that he may not survive his sentence.  What price will we pay today for doing the right thing?

Second, we should pray daily for leaders in Iran and around the world to know and follow God’s word and will.  Pastor Youcef: “I try to be humble and obedient to those who are in power, obedience to those in authority which God has granted to the officials of my country, and pray for them to rule the country according to the will of God and be successful in doing this.  For I know in this way I have obeyed God’s word.”  So will we.

Third, we can join the global Twitter campaign being waged in support of Pastor Youcef.  More than two million Twitter accounts worldwide are being reached every day, including 93 percent of the world’s United Nations member states.  A Facebook page has also been created in his support.

Last, we should intercede daily for Pastor Youcef, attorney Dadkhah, and others facing persecution in Iran and around the world.  The pastor closed his letter with this request: “I ask all the beloved ones to pray for me as the holy word has said.”  As the church prayed for Peter until he was released from prison (Acts 12:5-11), so we should intercede passionately for those who are suffering for our faith.

I will begin praying daily for Pastor Youcef and his family.  Will you join me?