Saturday, September 08, 2012

Matt 24 watch, 168: Pastor Nadarkhani of Iran has been set free

According to a Sept 8 2012 Jerusalem Post article, the young Iranian Pastor who had been previously sentenced to death by hanging for the alleged crime of apostasy -- converting out of Islam -- has finally been set free after a six-hour hearing before a court:
Nadarkhani, now 34, was arrested in 2009 for questioning the compulsory Islamic education of his children and seeking to register a home-based church. He converted to Christianity at the age of 19. He was sentenced to death in 2010. Iran’s judiciary upheld the sentence in February . . . . 

the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), a Washington-based advocacy group that promotes religious freedom in the US and abroad, wrote “Pastor Youcef had been summoned to appear before the court this morning for the charges brought against him. His hearing lasted almost six hours. But in the end, he was released and able to return home to his family.”

ACLJ, which launched a global campaign social media campaign to secure the Pastor’s release, added ”Some of our sources close to the case report that the court acquitted him of apostasy, but charged and convicted him of evangelizing to Muslims. According to these same sources, the court sentenced Pastor Youcef to three years in prison and granted him time served, which means his prison sentence already has been completed. Pastor Youcef’s story is an example of how the world can join together to ensure that justice is served and freedom preserved.”
 The ACLJ went on to say: "while we praise the release of Pastor Youcef, we must recognize that Iran felt obligated to save face among its people and continue its pattern of suppressing religious freedom with intimidation tactics. International attention to this matter saved this man’s life, but we must not forget the human right of freedom of religion includes the right to freedom of expression. We must also not forget the numerous other religious minorities in Iran who are imprisoned and face persecution for their faith."

Let us take sober notice: in the minds of courts in Iran, to bear good-conscience witness to the truth of the gospel as an act of loving one's neighbour who is made in God's image and -- given the evidence of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead in vindication of his being our Lord and Saviour, the end-of-days Son of Man and God the Incarnate Son, as the central warranting case for the Christian message -- a desperately needed spiritual truth, is viewed as a CRIME.

That speaks volumes

Sad, deeply spiritually sick volumes

Volumes, and volumes.

(Maybe, we could start with a precis here.)

Notwithstanding, it is good news that this oppressed man has been restored to his family instead of being judicially murdered at the end of a rope per the order of a perverted court blasphemously pretending to act in the name of God. 

Let us hear the Apostle John, in sober warning:
I Jn 3:10 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother. 

 11 For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. 12 We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother's righteous. 13 Do not be surprised, brothers,  that the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. 15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. [ESV]
This is a general warning, but in our day it particularly speaks to those who are tempted to abuse the name of God to enforce oppression of conscience and to abuse courts of justice to hang those they differ with. Or, to resort to mob violence against those accused of so-called blasphemy; as we are seeing in Pakistan.

Notwithstanding, this is a day to rejoice in a victory for justice.
So, let us give thanks to God for the release of Pastor Nadarkhani, and let us pray that good sense and decency will begin to prevail in Iran and the wider Middle East. END