>Iran pressures pastor to “recant” Christian faith
>Wife was earlier detained
>Sentence part of wider crackdown
>Number Christians still growing
By BosNewsLife Middle East Service with reporting by BosNewsLife’s Stefan J. Bos
TEHRAN, IRAN (BosNewsLife)– Iran’s Supreme Court has upheld a death sentence of an Iranian pastor for leaving Islam and he was under pressure Saturday, July 2, to recant his faith in Christ, trial observers told BosNewsLife.
Yousef Nadarkhani, 33, had appealed to the Supreme Court after he was sentenced to death in 2010 on charges of “apostasy”, or abandoning Islam, by the Revolutionary Tribunal of Iran’s Gilan Province.
Advocacy group Middle East Concern (MEC), which closely followed the case, said his lawyers have yet to receive written confirmation of the Supreme Court’s June 22 ruling, “but understand that the [death] sentence could be implemented at any time, unless he recants his Christian faith.”
Yousef, who has been detained since October 2009, is pastor of the evangelical ‘Church of Iran’ house church network in the northern city of Rasht.
Authorities have been cracking down on house churches as many of those attending worship services are former Muslims with Christians being arrested across the country, Iranian Christians told BosNewsLife.
Yousef’s wife, Fatemeh, was detained last year for her involvement in the church from June 8 to October 11, said her supporters, who also expressed concerns about the future of the couple’s two young sons.
The last known judicial execution of a Christian for apostasy in Iran occurred in December 1990 when Reverend Hossein Soodmand was hanged.
MEC said Iranian Christians urged the international community to pray that “Yousef will not be executed [and] that he will know the presence and peace of Jesus [and] that Fatemeh and the two boys will know the comfort and hope of Jesus, and that the family will be reunited soon.”
In an appeal, Iranian Christians said they also prayed that “Christians throughout Iran will not be intimidated but will know the Lord’s enabling and guidance” and that all “officials involved will love mercy, act justly, learn about Jesus and choose to follow Him.”
The case has been linked to concern within Iran’s government about the spread of Christianity among Muslims.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s government has defended harsh sentences, including executions of political opponents and Christians, as part of defending the values of the Islamic state.
Rights activists say however Ahmadinejad is concerned about the spread of Christianity among Muslims at a time of political upheaval in the Arab world. “Because Iran is a strategic gateway nation, the growing church in Iran will impact Muslim nations across the Islamic world,” said Elam Ministries, a group of Iranian church leaders in a recent assessment.
It claimed that the number of Christians has grown from 500 known believers in 1979 to at least 100,000 today. Church leaders have reportedly said that “millions” can be added “to the church in the next few years-such is the spiritual hunger that exists and the disillusionment with the Islamic regime.”
The Assyrian Church of the East and the Armenian Apostolic Church have been present in Iran since long before the birth of the Prophet. They’re protected by Iranian law. Why can’t he join one of these?
It is not so much about joining a certain church, but about seeking a personal relationship with Christ. He has been prosecuted for that. Authorities do not want the pastor to abandon Islam. Iranian authorities have perhaps nothing against some old institutional churches as a religion, as long as what they do remains between their cold church walls. But the point is that the pastor’s congregation has nothing to do with religion, such as rituals or church institutions, but a living faith in Christ.
Stefan J. Bos, BosNewsLife
Free men and women all over the world should speak loud and clear against this hyneous crime of the Iranian regime led by sharia law. This man must be protected now!!
Islam as religion have sam value, jew believ have same value both religion very close, both have invisible GOD or jew have kandle or stone they praye to, christian is most advance believe,have GOD visible,have angels for children,have miracle,have sant,have messengers from GOD,praye to Jesus in darknes of You life Jesus help your or your children,children praye to angel angel can defend them,praye to mather of mercy they can seen your all the time,the invisible world of christianite your can is very large,special in this time we enter year 3000, every human will need help from above, special famili with children an the children them self -havetu now the praye to guardian angel,GOD have mercy for Your
Sharia law will imprison one’s own “Free Will” I believe every man, woman and child is born with!
All Christians should support “Free Will”……”Who wants to be in prison with oneself?” FRL
…and here we sit in the United States… fat, dumb and happy… (or should I say ‘blissfully ignorant’ ?).
We just take for granted that people the world over can just walk away from anyone who doesn’t agree with them. We need to wake up to the fact that there are many men and women in this world, some we hear about and some we do not, who give up their very lives for their ideals… much the way our forefathers did in 1776 (just look up the fate of the 56 signers of the Declaration).
God bless these brave souls!
It is shameful that people want to force their beliefs on others! I continue to pray that God would soften the hearts of the Iranian leaders and provide His peace and strength to the Christians who are being persecuted. God is able!