Iranian pastor: I'm surrendered 'to God's will'

by Michael Foust — BP


TEHRAN — The jailed Iranian pastor who could be executed for converting to Christianity has released a public letter asking for continued prayers and saying that while he wishes to be released, he has surrendered "to God's will."

The letter from Yousef Nadarkhani was translated into English by Jason DeMars of Present Truth Ministries, an organization that has been working to free Nadarkhani, who was sentenced to death in 2010 for converting from Islam to Christianity. The case dates back to 2009. His first name also can be spelled "Youcef."

"First, I would like to inform all of my beloved brothers and sisters that I am in perfect health in the flesh and spirit," the letter began. "And I try to have a little different approach from others to these days, and consider it as the day of exam and trial of my faith. And in these days which are hard in order to prove your 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.

"I need to remind my beloveds, 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."

Without naming names or countries, Nadarkhani acknowledged that "various churches" and "famous politicians" have asked for his release and that human rights groups worldwide have sided with him. Officials with the United States and United Kingdom have called for his release.

"I do believe that these kind of activities can be very helpful in order to reach freedom, and respecting the human rights in a right way can bring forth great results in this," Nadarkhani wrote.

But Nadarkhani, again without mentioning names, seemed to criticize Florida pastor Terry Jones, who in April burned several copies of the Quran. Jones, who pastors an independent church, said he took the action to draw attention to Nadarkhani's case. Jones' action didn't get much attention in the United States but Iranian politicians noticed, and one called for Jones to be executed, The New York Times reported.

"Insulting the belief of other nations or people, whether they be a majority or minority, is not accepted and is an unworthy deed, specifically for those who have this teaching to love and respect others more than themselves and treat them the same as you want to be treated," Nadarkhani wrote. "Then, burning and insulting is not a reverent behavior for a Christian, but it's worthy to be in obedience to the Word of God and humble ourselves to glorify God."

Nadarkhani said he prays for the leaders in Iran to "rule the country according to the will of God."

He also asked for prayer.

"I ask all the beloved ones to pray for me as the holy word has said," Nadarkhani wrote. "At the end I hope this be prepared as soon as possible, as the authorities of my country will do with free will according to their law and commandments which are answerable to."

Nadarkhani's stance against Iranian officials has inspired Christians worldwide. In September, Nadarkhani was given four chances to recant his faith in court and refused each time. His case then was referred to the ayatollah. The American Center for Law and Justice reported one of his court exchanges.

"Repent means to return. What should I return to? To the blasphemy that I had before my faith in Christ?" Nadarkhani asked.

"To the religion of your ancestors, Islam," the judge reportedly replied.

"I cannot," the pastor responded.

Following is the full text of his letter:

"Greetings from your servant and younger brother in Christ, Youcef Nadarkhani.

"All those who are concerned and worried about my current situation. First, I would like to inform all of my beloved brothers and sisters that I am in perfect health in the flesh and spirit. And I try to have a little different approach from others to these days, and consider it as the day of exam and trial of my faith. And in these days which are hard in order to prove your 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.

"I need to remind my beloveds, 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.

"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 which can result in criticism, which most of the times response to this criticisms will be harsh and as a result will lengthen our problems.

"From time to time I am informed about the news which is spreading in the media about my current situation, for instance being supported by various churches and famous politicians who have asked for my release, or campaigns and human rights activities which are going on against the charges which are applied to me. I do believe that these kind of activities can be very helpful in order to reach freedom, and respecting the human rights in a right way can bring forth great results in this.

"I want to appreciate all those are trying to reach to this goal. But at the other hand, I'd like to announce my disgust at insulting words or activities which make stress and trouble, which unfortunately are done with the justification (excuse) of defending human rights and freedom, for the final result is so clear and obvious for me. Insulting the belief of other nations or people, whether they be a majority or minority, is not accepted and is an unworthy deed, specifically for those who have this teaching to love and respect others more than themselves and treat them the same as you want to be treated.

"Then, burning and insulting is not a reverent behavior for a Christian, but it's worthy to be in obedience to the Word of God and humble ourselves to glorify God.

"I try to be humble and obedient to those who are in power, obedience to those in authority which God has granted to the officials of my country, and pray for them to rule the country according to the will of God and be successful in doing this. For I know this in this way I have obeyed God's word. I try to obey along with those whom I see in a common situation with me. They never had any complaint, but just let the power of God be manifested in their lives, and though sometimes we read that they have used this 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.

"So I ask all the beloved ones to pray for me as the holy word has said. At the end I hope this be prepared as soon as possible, as the authorities of my country will do with free will according to their law and commandments which are answerable to.

"May God's Grace and Mercy be upon you now and forever. Amen.

"Youcef Nadarkhani"

Published, May 11, 2012



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