>Pastor asked to acknowledge Muhammed as “God’s messenger” in exchange for release
>Lawyers summoned to discuss deal
>Nadarkhani still facing execution for abandoning Islam
By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent BosNewsLife
TEHRAN, IRAN (BosNewsLife)– Iranian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani has rejected an offer to be released from prison if he publicly acknowledges Islam’s prophet Mohammed as “a messenger sent by God” well-informed Christians and rights activists said Friday, January 13.
Iranian authorities reportedly summoned lawyers for Pastor Nadarkhani to his home city of Rasht on December 30, to explain the deal. Local officials indicated they would release the pastor if he agreed to make the statement about Mohammed, Christians with close knowledge about the situation explained.
“However, Pastor Nadarkhani has refused to do so, and remains in prison awaiting a final decision on his case,” confirmed advocacy group Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) in a statement to BosNewsLife.
Christians said the pastor has made clear that making the demanded statement about Muhammed would amount to abandoning his faith in Jesus Christ.
Another source assisting the pastor told BosNewsLife there is concern about the renewed pressure on Nadarkhani, who faces execution for refusing to recant his Christian faith and return to Islam.
“Keep in mind that brother Youcef has not had a Bible the entire two years and about three months that he has been in prison. He has no access to a computer or the outside world other than meeting with his wife and family,” the source said.
Yet, the Christian said that “The Holy Spirit is sustaining him in his faith and endurance”. He added that the 34-year-old pastor, who is married with two children, “is healthy in mind and body and his faith is as strong as ever.”
Pastor Nadarkhani was detained in the city of Rasht in October 2009, while trying to register his Church of Iran home congregation, with hundreds of members in Gilan province.
The Church of Iran has also several other congregations, making it one of the largest house church movements in the country.
In September 2010 he was tried and found guilty of “apostasy”, or abandoning Islam, and sentenced to death by hanging.
After further legal wrangling in 2011, during which the pastor refused to recant his faith to save his own life, his case was eventually referred to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khameini.
With international pressure mounting, “I think judges would rather release him, but are under pressure by hardliners to execute him,” explained Firouz Khandjani, a council member of the pastor’s Church of Iran. “That’s why the court asked the Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Khameini for an opinion so they can say they are not responsible for his execution,” he told BosNewsLife.
CSW said Iran’s latest conditions for his release violates article 23 of the Iranian Constitution, which states that no-one should be molested or taken to task simply for holding a certain belief.
“Just as the initial conviction of Pastor Nadarkhani is illegal under Iranian law, the recent offer made by the authorities in Rasht is a violation of the Iranian constitution, and of international covenants to which Iran is a signatory that guarantee freedom of religion and freedom to change one’s religion,” said CSW’s Chief Executive, Mervyn Thomas.
He told BosNewsLife that his group has called for his unconditional released and “of all those imprisoned in Iran purely on account of their faith.”
Thomas said “It is vital that the international community maintains pressure on the Iranian regime until the human rights situation positively and irrevocably improves for the better.”
Pastor Nadarkhani’s case was reportedly also highlighted by British parliamentarians on January 11, during a 90-minute debate on human rights in Iran.
Iranian officials have not publicly commented on the reported offer, but earlier denied wrongdoing.
Gholam-Ali Rezvani, deputy governor general of the northern province of Gilan, where the pastor’s case is being reheard, denied to government linked Fars News Agency (FNA) that Nadarkhani faces execution for “apostasy”, or abandoning Islam.
“The issue of crime and of capital punishment of this individual is not a question of faith or religion,” he claimed, despite confirmation from several written court verdicts seen by BosNewsLife.
Nadarkhani, a 34-year-old married father with two children, was “a Zionist, a traitor and had committed security crimes,” Rezvani added. Iranian officials have also said their actions are aimed at defending “Islamic values”.
Christians have linked the imprisonment of Nadarkhani and other converts to concerns among Iran’s government about the spread of Christianity in the strict Islamic nation.
It seems that the government is trying to find ways to release him and he’s trying to find ways to get himself hanged. I wonder where it will all end?
Yeah! Keep standing for Jesus Pastor Youcef!! God is in control and whatever this country does, He will judge them. Be the salt and light in that dark country for the Lord. That is what the disciples did too. If you’re a follower of Jesus have a spine, getting released by denying Jesus is disgusting.
John wrong, the man is sticking to his convictions. People should have the right to beige as they wish. How is this man by sticking to what he believes in trying to get hanged?
@John Lindorfer: The Pastor is not turning his back on Jesus. He’s doing exactly what he should. His reward in Heaven isn’t even measurable by mans calculations. You’re OBVIOUSLY not a Christian!
Trying to find way to release him? Why don’t they just release him? What crime has he done?
It seems rather that the government wants him to abandon his faith, and he simply puts his faith in the LORD Jesus Christ before his life. You are incredibly ignorant of the situation.
No true Christian would call muhammed a messenger sent by God. God Bless Pastor Nadarkhani
You don’t get it Johnnyboy. He’s firm in his faith yet his radical Islamic murderers want him to bow down to Islam. They’re not trying to find ways to release him, they’re trying to get him to recant his christian faith and worhip Mooohamed the child rapist.
He isn’t trying to find an excuse to stay imprisoned. He can’t declare the Mohammad is a messenger sent by God, his God because it is a lie. He would be denying the doctrine of Christianity therefore Christ if he did this. The Iran government is fearful of the Pastor’s influence in a mainly Muslim country but would rather free him because they know the World is looking. It will end when Iran lets him go free, or when they martyr him or when God transport hims out of the prison.
He cannot stomach declaring Muhammad as a prophet because he is not. Comparing Jesus versus Muhammad is an insult to Christians. Muhammad was a war lord, murderer and a pedophile. Jesus Christ never killed nor hurt a child.
This is an interesting lesson in the Islamic Shariah Law. Will CAIR or one of the moderate Muslims please come forward and condemn the Islamic Republic of Iran for its decision to execute someone for leaving Islam?
I feel it is better to be alive in heaven and with the love of the Lord, than to bow to the will of man. As somebody or many somebodies have said. Mohammed was a pedophile, a murderer, and just a general all-around criminal, why any thinking person would believe enough to have faith in that sort of person, has to be, that sort of person.
I often wonder how many in this country would have his resolve. I pray to G-d for this mans courage. He is going to have so much more reward than me.
My prayers are with you. God is in control. If God is with you, who can be against you? God will bless you for standing strong.
This man is a shining example of the kind of faith all Christians should have in God. If I were in the same situation, could I be as courageous? I can only hope and pray. God willing, his work is done and God will break his chains and let him return to his family here on Earth.
May he cling to the Lord in revelation and intimacy and see his situation and suffering as a gareway to reveal Gods glory.
This man’s story reminds me of the three servants of GOD who would not bow down under any circumstance to worship a golden image that King B in the book of daniel had built. Although the three men were indeed thrown in into the blazing inferno not one hair on their precious head was harmed. Keep your faith pastor and GOD the living JESUS will surely rescue you! There will be glory after this and I cannot wait!
To All of Job’s Many Counselors,
None of us have walked a day in Yousef’s shoes. Take in a good breath imagine the stench of urine and human feces…all of the time. The noise level can be deafening; it rises and falls continuously spewing out loudly all kinds of colorful filthy language, and you don’t have any volume control switch to shut it off.
Torture is a regular part of everyday prison life; it becomes part of the daily routine. It may be scheduled or is randomly conducted. You know that they will be coming for you, but you don’t know when.
These few cited details are only a drop in the bucket, compared to all that occurs 24/7/365. Did you have a nice sleep last night next to your spouse in your own comfortable bed? Yousef didn’t.
I know what God’s Word says, and I know that it is true and is for ever settled in heaven. I also know a good deal of God’s precious promises that are given to us that we may escape the pollution of the world through lust. What I am saying is, that it is one thing to sit down and draft up a “powerful sermon” telling the man what he should.
Pray for him. Be a friend to him, love him and encourage him. We too may find ourselves in similar circumstances in the near future.
Praise God through Whom all blessing flow…Kerry you said it all. What we must understand and only Believers can receive this is, this Man of God has a love for Jesus whereby he has surrendered his all for the cause of Christ. Jesus gave His life for us, Pastor Yousef is the very example of sharing in the suffering of Christ and willing to die for what he knows (and we should know) is the Truth. The other thing is, this Man of God knows the tricks of the enemy (Satan). If he can get this Pastor to openly deny Christ, recant his statements and accept Islam, the Iranian government will SURELY execute. All the devil wants to do is and wants us to do is discredit and deny Jesus Christ. They want to desolve and disburse this ministry by using its leader. The devil is afraid because in this Islamic country there are as many as 100,00 devoted evangelical Christians and many of them are former Muslims.
Be all so thankful to Almighty God this is not the call of God on our lives. Yet, as Believers in Jesus, we are required to pray for one another. Pastor Youcef Nardarkhani is not the only Christian Iran has incarcerated. There are more and even some that have been taken away and their whereabouts are unknow. Iran is known to secretly hang those they have arrested only because they love Jesus.
If we can’t agree on anything else, let us agree on the fact we live in a free country. We can go to OR NOT GO TO church. We won’t be snatched from our spouses, children and families, jailed, tortured, maimed, hung and/or shot to death. Those who are not saved and have not accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior, read Romans 10:9. You can still rejoice because you are here in the United States of America and you have a second chance. To my Brothers and Sisters in Christ, let us pray for those being persecuted for Christ’s sake. Let our Worship every day be that of an attitude of gratitude. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Jesus is Lord..
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[…] Likewise, Iranian Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani continues to suffer in prison. Most recently, he rejected an offer to be released if he publicly acknowledged Islam’s prophet Muhammad as “a messenger […]
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