Youcef Nadarkhani, married, and the father of 2 little curly-haired boys. He is a Christian living in Iran. As a pastor, he led services and Bible studies. He baptized new converts.
For this, he was sentenced a couple of weeks ago to death by hanging. Youcef was given 2 chances in court to refute his faith. He refused both times.
There has been a world outcry, including protests from the White House, and the Iranian courts have backed off slightly, saying that his case is still under review and that there are new charges. The Iranian government now accuses him of rape, Zionism, and extortion. They say that he will receive the death penalty for those crimes. The supreme religious leader of Iran will decide his case personally.
It is jarring to think that martyrdom still exists, even knowing that throughout the Middle East and Egypt, Christians are being killed. Youcef’s case has put a face on it–an individual singled out by his government to be killed for his beliefs. It seems like something from the Roman Empire, not from 2011, to see a person executed simply for being a Christian, while the world watches.
I marvel at the courage Pastor Youcef displays. His actions these past few weeks are an inspiration. Would my faith be so strong? I like to think that my love for the Lord is unshakable, yet I am grateful to live in a country where I won’t have to be put to that sort of test. Please remember Youcef in your prayers. His steadfast faith and courage are an example to us all.