Please continue to pray for Pastor Youcef and his family! See below for further information!
*Listen to Pastor Wally's Thoughts regarding this situation!
*Please check out ACLJ website for Pastor Youcef
*Latest Information below, on Pastor Youcef:
Date: September 8, 2012
Pastor Youcef RELEASED!
Apostasy Charge Withdrawn, Pastor Youcef Reunited with His Family
|Photo: Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani walks out of jail in Iran and greets his family. Credit: ACLJ|
|Our Prayers Have Been Answered
Dear friends it is with great joy that we tell you that Pastor Yousef was released from prison earlier today and reunited with his family! He has been in prison since 2009, with a guilty verdict of apostasy since 2011. This is the first time he has seen his sons in 3 years.
Oh brothers and sisters, rejoice with us. Your prayers and ours have been answered! This is good news not merely for Pastor Yousef, but for all Christians in Iran. While Christians are certainly persecuted in Iran, Pastor Yousef's case was one of the ominous signs that the Iranian authorities were contemplating a major purge of Christians.
Pastor Yousef's release is a clear and encouraging sign that there are still lines that the Iranian authorities will not cross, and we rejoice for the reprieve and the continued growth of the Gospel in that land. Please continue to be in prayer for Pastor Yousef and his family, as they must decide whether they will remain in Iran or flee the countryl. While I am sure that Pastor Yousef would prefer to stay with his flock, the high profile nature of this case may put him, his family, and his church in extreme danger as long as they stay in Iran. Pray that God would grant him wisdom.
And even as we rejoice for Pastor Yousef's release, we remember the many other Christians imprisoned and facing torture and extrajudicial execution in Iran. Please continue to be in prayer for them
In HIS Grace and Peace
Jubilee Campaign USA
Date: September 8, 20
By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent BosNewsLife
TEHRAN/RASHT (BosNewsLife)-- Iranian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, who was sentenced to death and became a symbol of what his church called "suffering Christians" in this heavily Islamic nation, could embrace his wife and children Saturday, September 8, after he was unexpectedly released from prison, BosNewsLife learned.
"Thanks to all who have supported me with prayers", he told BosNewsLife in a statement through an interpreter.
The 35-year-old pastor appeared tired, but said he always kept his faith behind bars "I experienced especially the presence of the Lord on my side every time," Nadarkhani said in brief remarks.
Nadarkhani, who was three years behind bars, had urged Christians not to give up hope that he he would be released one day.
In a major turnaround the court in his home city of Rasht acquitted him of "apostasy" or abandoning Islam. He was found guilty of evangelizing among Muslims and sentenced to three years in prison, time he already served.
His wife Fatemah “Tina” Pasindedih and their two young sons, Daniel and Yoel, could be seen rushing to their father armed with flowers as he opened the iron door of the notorious prison where he had been held for over 1,000 days.
Relatives could be seen weeping and smiling as he greeted his wife for the first time in freedom.
"This is an answer to prayers," added Firouz Khandjani, his friend and council member of the pastor's 'Church of Iran' house church movement.
In a letter Pastor Nadarkhani earlier called his long detention and possible execution "a trial of faith."
His sudden release suggest disagreements on his fate within Iran's leadership, Iranian Christians said.
Officially only Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei or Sadegh Larijani, the head of Iran's judiciary,
have the authority to halt an execution, according to trial observers.
However "According to the Sharia" or Muslim law, "when a notion is a matter of disagreement they cannot refer to it...It is the official reason why he was released," Khandjani explained to BosNewsLife.
Khandjani thanks BosNewsLife News Agency and its readers for following the case closely. Yet, he cautioned that he remains concerned about the pastor's future.
"Pastor Mehdi Dibaj who had his apostasy charges reversed and then was murdered shortly after his release," some two decades ago he recalled. "Several other pastors have also been assassinated," he added.
Saturday's release brought to a closure an ordeal that began over three years ago.
Nadarkhani, 35, was detained in his home city of Rasht in 2009, after trying to register his church and questioning the Muslim monopoly of religious instruction for children, which he claimed was unconstitutional.
He was later sentenced to death, but following an appeals trial, 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 also offered freedom in exchange for renouncing his faith in Jesus Christ on at least four occasions, Christians familiar with the case told BosNewsLife.
As a compromise, officials last December reportedly him to at least recognize Islam's Prophet Mohammed as "a messenger sent by God." Pastor Nadarkhani refused to do so saying that statement would "amount to abandoning" his faith in Jesus Christ.
In a letter, obtained by BosNewsLife while he was in prison, the pastor wrote that "The Word of God tells us to “expect to suffer hardship” and dishonor for the sake of His Name."
However he said he had told his congregation that "Our Christian confession is not acceptable if we ignore this statement, if we do not manifest the patience of the Lord in our sufferings."
The pastor said, "Anybody ignoring it will be ashamed in that day" when Christians will meet the Lord. "Let us remember that sometimes the leap of faith leads us towards some impasses. Just as the Word led the sons of Israel leaving Egypt toward the impasse of the Red sea," he wrote.
"These impasses are midway between promises of God and their fulfillment and they challenge our faith. Believers are to accept these challenges as a part of their spiritual course."
Khandjani, who himself is in hiding, told BosNewsLife that several other believers of the Church of Iran and other denominations remain behind bars. "There are other prisoners I hope that they will be released too," Khandjani told BosNewsLife.
Despite reported hardship, there are at least 100,000 devoted Christians in Iran, according to church groups, with others saying that figure may be even several times higher.
Iran's leadership has defended its often tough stand towards active Christians and denies wrongdoing, saying it defends the country's Islamic values.