I spent most of my afternoon yesterday thinking about what I wanted to post today that would go along with our planning and our trip. I found some interesting articles about photography and had a few ideas; however, I believe that God has lead this post in a different direction.
Yousef Nadarkhani, a thirty-four year old from Iran, has been sentenced to die. He’s not being put to death because he stole something, murdered someone, or committed an act against the Iranian government. He may have just received a final execution order because of a crime called apostasy, something I’d never heard of until today. According to dictionary.com, it’s a word with roots in the Middle Ages which means: “a total desertion of or departure from one’s religion, principles, party, cause, etc.”
Nadarkhani is a Christian pastor in a country which, according to CIA’s World Factbook, is 98 percent Muslim. In 2010, he was found guilty of his crime and refused to recant his Christian beliefs.
United States elected officials have criticized these actions and have called for Iran to “live up to their international obligations as a member of the United Nations and a signatory of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights” according to an article published by My Fox Memphis.
How lucky are we that we can worship our loving and merciful God without fear of government persecution, that we can praise him from the mountains and share his love through our own lives? How brave is Nadarkhani that he is willing to give up his life for God?
Nadarkhani is our age; he could be one of us going on this trip. Instead he’s sitting in a cell awaiting death for sharing the word. He is unwilling to deny God.
Acts 5:28-32 tells us the story of the Apostles being persecuted for sharing the word of God.
28“We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name,” [Sanhedrin] said. “Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.” 29 Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than human beings! 30 The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead—whom you killed by hanging him on a cross. 31 God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might bring Israel to repentance and forgive their sins. 32 We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”
I hope that never in our lives are we persecuted for following Jesus Christ, that we can continue to share his word without that fear. But I hope that if one day that we are faced with a struggle like Nadarkhani’s, that we not be like Peter and deny God but that will have the strength to remain strong in our faith.
I pray for Nadarkhani’s safety and that the leaders of Iran will be sensible. But if that is not God’s will, I pray that he holds his Faith until the very end and that he is delivered to swiftly to Jesus’ waiting arms.