Youcef Nadarkhani is a name you may have seen run across your internet screen lately. He’s an Iranian pastor charged with leaving Islam and evangelizing Muslims. Iran is a large nation in the Middle East where 98.6% of the population is Muslim. Amazingly, 0.2% of this nation’s people are Evangelical Christians, but this small percentage of the population is growing by 19% each year. Iran is the place where Christianity is growing the fastest in the world.
Youcef protested against Islam being taught in the public school system and, in 2009, was charged in court with evangelizing Muslims and leaving the Islamic religion. What’s different about countries like Iran is that they are ruled not by laws made by Congress, but by the laws of Islam. Islam is the state religion, so decisions in court are made according to the Islamic law. The law states that anyone who leaves the religion can be put to death.
This is where Youcef finds himself today. The courts have found him guilty and an execution order has been issued. What makes this interesting is that the US government has now stepped in and said that they disagree with the decision. With so much international attention on the situation, I’m sure Iran’s government is feeling the pressure of the situation.
What’s amazing about this is that I think God put Youcef in this public position for two reasons….(I love how he always takes our messy lives and glorifies himself through them!)
- First, through Youcef, the injustices against Christians that have been going on for generations in Iran are now being exposed. The US government is voicing their opinion on specifics, not generalities, about how Iran is treating Christians in their nation. Political pressure may force them to change how they approach Christianity in Iran.
- Second, I think Youcef is reminding all of us that there are thousands (if not millions) of other believers suffering his same fate because of their governments. We need to remember them, pray for them, and encourage them.
I really believe that through prayer and God’s intervention, Youcef could change the nation of Iran and lessen the oppression of Christians in his country. However, he can’t do it alone! We need to stand in the gap for Youcef and make our voices heard.
So, what can you do?
Pray that in life or death this situation would glorify God. Pray that many Iranians see Youcef’s faith and recognize that Allah is not the one true God. Pray that Youcef and his family have strength and remain faithful. Pray that Youcef is released. Pray for the millions of other persecuted Christians whose stories we may never hear.
You can directly encourage Youcef on a Voice of the Matry’s webpage. You can also contact government officials. Here is where you can get involved http://tiny.cc/1e5cu.