By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent BosNewsLife

Iranian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani still in prison awaiting a possible death sentence for refusing to abandon his faith in Christ and return to Islam.

TEHRAN, IRAN (BosNewsLife)– Iranian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, who faces the death penalty for abandoning Islam and converting to Christianity, says he faces “a trial of faith” in a new letter attributed to him.

The letter, dated May 7, 2012, was released by Christian advocacy group Present Truth Ministries and obtained by BosNewsLife late Wednesday, May 9.

Nadarkhani, 35, said he wanted to “inform all of my beloved brothers and sisters that I am in perfect health in the flesh and spirit,” despite difficulties in prison.

This is “the day of exam and trial of my faith,” added the pastor of the Church of Iran, one of the nation’s largest evangelical house church movements.

“Though my trial…has been so long, and as in the flesh I wish these days to end, yet I have surrendered myself to God’s will,” Nadarkhani wrote from Lakan Prison near the northern city of Rasht, where he has been held since 2009.


“These days…are hard” but “to prove [my] 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,” he said.

Though Nadarkhani said he appreciates news media covering his case and “various churches and famous politicians” asking for his release, he expressed concerns over unspecified “insulting activities” by activists towards Iranian authorities.

“I’d like to announce my disagreement with the insulting activities which cause stress and trouble, which unfortunately are done with the justification [or] excuse of defending human rights and freedom, for the results are so clear and obvious for me,” the pastor explained.

“I try to be humble and obedient to those who are in power [showing] obedience to those in authority which God has granted to the officials of my country.”

He added: “I am neither a political person nor do I know about political complicity…But I know that while there are many things in common between different cultures, there are also differences between these cultures around the world.”


That, he said, “can result in criticism [and] response to this criticism [from Iran] will be harsh and as a result lengthen our problems.”

It was not clear whether some aspects of the letter attributed to him had been written under duress, but they appeared to be aimed at Western protests against his imprisonment.

The pastor stressed that he continues to “pray for [Iranians] to rule the country according to the will of God and be successful in doing this.” This way, he explained “I have obeyed God’s word.”

Nadarkhani suggested he tried to support those in a similar situation as him, apparently referring to fellow jailed Christians. “They never had any complaint [but] just let the power of God be manifested in their lives,” he noted in comments resembling letters of jailed Apostle Paul in the Bible.

Yet, “sometimes we read that they have used [the] right to defend themselves, for they had this right… I am not an exception as well and have used all possibilities and so forth and am waiting for the final result,” the pastor wrote.


Nadarkhani has been behind bars since 2009 when he was captured in his home city of Rasht to register his house church, which is part of the Church of Iran movement.

He was later sentenced to death, though a court in Gilan province asked a final opinion from Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Khameini, a move critics saw as an attempt to make someone else responsible for executing the married father of two children.

Iranian officials indicated in December however that they could release the pastor if he agreed to make a statement saying Islam’s Prophet Mohammed was “a messenger sent by God” Christians with close knowledge about the situation told BosNewsLife earlier.

Pastor Nadarkhani reportedly refused to do so saying that statement would “amount to abandoning” his faith in Jesus Christ.

“So I ask all the beloved ones to pray for me as the holy Word has said,” he stressed in the latest letter, referring to the Bible, regarded by Christians as God’s Word.


“At the end I hope my freedom will be prepared as soon as possible [and that] the authorities of my country will act with [a] free will according to their law and commandments which [they] are answerable to.”

The church leader ended his letter with a wish for readers that “God’s Grace and Mercy be upon you now and forever.”

Youcef Nadarkhani has become a symbol of what Christians and rights activists view as widespread suffering of devoted Christian converts, including many former Muslims, who face prosecution in the strict Islamic country.

Iranian officials have denied the accusations. Gholam-Ali Rezvani, deputy governor general of the northern province of Gilan, where the pastor’s case was 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.

The European Union and United States have demanded Nadarkhani’s release from prison.


  1. Over the travails of man on this globe, the clash of titans has always caught many otherwise innocents sandwiched.
    The friction between the West (especially US) and Iran is generating all these “Trials of Conscience” (apologies to Youcef).
    It would be in Iran’s best interest to maintain civility despite the pressure from the west. A point in history comes to me at times like this: Saladin watching how brilliantly Richard fought sent him a horse in replacement of his which fell wounded. That is what I call reasonable.
    On the part of the victimized, be aware that solidarity abounds everywhere for any little effort made to keep your mind intact. In the face of death, the oneness in common conviction overrides any form of selective persecution. It applies to all forms of suffering for conscience (not only Christianity).
    It is high time the world stop trying to exploit these religions for political gains.

  2. Dear Pastor Nadarkhani,

    I do pray for you as the holy Word has said, for your freedom to be prepared as soon as possible, and that the authorities of your country will act with a free will according to the laws and commandments of God, which they are indeed answerable to.

    God’s Grace and Mercy be upon you now and forever, too.



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