A letter from Pastor Yousef Nadharkani, the Iranian house Church leader who was sentenced to death for his faith, has been published.
The 34-year-old Church of Iran pastor, who has been the subject of numerous calls for clemency from British politicians, has been in jail for three years.
A recent spate of reports have caused fresh debate over the fate of Nadharkani, with conflicting claims over whether or not he still faces the death sentence.
In January we reported that the protestant leader turned down an opportunity to walk free from jail if he would renounce his faith.
Nadharkani was initially arrested in the city of Rasht in 2009. He was tried and found guilty of apostasy, a crime punishable by death under Iranian law.
But experts claim that his conviction was illegal under Iranian law, and that subsequent efforts to persuade him to recant his beliefs are a violation of the Iranian constitution.
Now Christian Solidarity Worldwide have published a letter, written by the Pastor, in which he warns that all Christians should be willing to suffer trials and hardships for their faith.
He said: “The Word of God tell[s] us to “expect to suffer hardship” and dishonor for the sake of His Name. Our Christian confession is not acceptable if we ignore this statement, if we do not manifest the patience of the Lord in our sufferings. Anybody ignoring it will be ashamed in that day.”
The letter, which was written in his cell in January, shortly after he was informed that he would be executed, has once again called attention to the plight of people living under regimes which deny them religious liberty.
But it is also being seen as a challenge to the church, to face up to the reality of spiritual warfare, and follow the example of Christ.
“A lot of people admire Jesus as a unique model to follow for generations and a lot of people would like to become like Him. Jesus did not come to be admired but to give us a perfect model to follow. If we want to be like Him, we need to take a step of faith, like Peter. When the apostle saw his Lord walking on the furious sea, he asked to come to Him on the water. Jesus said: ‘Come!’”
The full text of the letter can be found here.
March 15th, 2012 - Posted & Written by Simon Cross