Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani met to freedom by his children
GOD BE GLORIFIED! Just minutes from the writing of this article, American Center for Law and Justice reported in their Facebook account that Iranian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani has been released after being jailed for three years. He was jailed for his Christian faith and after not succumbing to pressures for him to turn his back against Christianity, he was placed on death row.
But Christians around the world started to pressure the Iranian government for his freedom. The pressure also led governments and institutions to speak against the suppression of Christian faith in Nadarkhani's imprisonment. To make it appear that the imprisonment is not religious in nature, the Iranian government fabricated false accusations against the Iranian pastor like espionage.
But reports say that he was acquitted from the accusation of apostasy that's why he was released. But he was found guilty of evangelizing Muslims and sentenced to three years of jail time. But because he has already been in jail for three years, he still is now a free man.
We praise the Lord for His power all throughout Ptr. Nadarkhani's trial of faith.
But although Ptr. Nadarkhani has been freed, we must continue praying for the others who are still suffering persecution for their faith all around the world. The happy ending in Ptr. Nadarkhani's story just showed us that our God still sits on His throne.
About a month ago, the leader of the most powerful and influential country in the world, U.S. President Barack Obama. announced in an ABC News interview, that his views on same-sex marriage has evolved. He now supports the idea of allowing people of the same sex to get married if they want to. According to him, it's the right of anyone to choose who to marry. This latest revelation of Pres. Obama, in a way, was not a big surprise as he has hinted in the past his growing support of this kind of union. Of course, gays and lesbians lauded the president's declaration. Hollywood celebrities right away voiced their approval of Pres. Obama's declaration like Jay-Z and Carrie Underwood who has been vocal in telling others that she's a Christian. Just a few days back, it was announced that Pentagon will be hosting the first ever Pride Month, a celebration of gays and lesbians in the military.
Other countries have openly supported same-sex marriage. Several European countries like the Netherlands and Belgium allow same-sex marriage. Denmark, France, Iceland, Norway and Sweden offer similar legal status to civil unions. Elsewhere, same-sex couples, from any country, could be married in the Canadian provinces of British Columbia and Ontario. In Asia, more and more countries are starting to open possibilities for this kind of union. In the Philippines, a predominantly Catholic nation, Filipinos are starting to get comfortable with homosexuals in the society.
There are two popular reasons why societies are starting to accept same-sex marriages. First, is that they believe that not allowing this union is against a homosexual's rights. Second, if you invoke Christianity in the picture, they will argue that Jesus preached "love", giving homosexuals that right to love anyone they want.
But the Bible is very clear from its very first pages that the only marital union that God allowed was between a man and a woman. The New Testament clearly tells us that God is against homosexual relationships (1 Cor. 6:9, Romans 1). And yes, Jesus preached love. But let us remember that God, in commanding us to "love one another" did not declare that in love's name we can do away with His other commandments. 2 John 1:6 says, "And this is love, that we walk after his commandments." John was explaining here that true love is conscious about obeying God's commandments. Yes, God called man to love, but the love He is talking about gives regard to God's preferences, in the case of romantic love, between man and woman as shown in the marriage at the Garden of Eden.
I believe that the love God wants us to show homosexuals is the love that drives His child to share the Gospel to gays and lesbians.
It's so sad that this world is turning farther and farther away from God. We need more Christians who will boldly declare God's standard of morality to a dying world.
News are floating around that the Iranian government has already issued an order for the execution of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani. Pastor Youcef was convicted and sentenced to death for becoming a Christian.
“As of today, we cannot confirm that Pastor Youcef is alive,” said American Center for Law and Justice executive director Jordan Sekulow. “With Iran now dominating international headlines because of its military actions, it’s clear Iran may have decided to move forward by issuing an execution order, knowing that the world’s attention is focused elsewhere right now. We also know that Iran’s top officials can reject the execution order and release Pastor Youcef if they so desire. We will keep the international pressure on Iran to free Pastor Youcef.” (from cnsnews.com)
Because Pastor Youcef refuses to denounce his faith in Christ, the Iranian government has kept him in death row. Thanks to international pressure, Pastor Youcef's execution has been stalled for several months now.
Nothing is clear about the chance for Pastor Youcef to appeal his execution order. It is the conduct in Iran for the head of Judiciary, currently Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani, to approve publicly held executions. But only a few executions are held public. Most are done in secret.
Please continue praying for our dear brother, Pastor Youcef.
Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani of Iran
FoxNews.com reports that Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani is safe for now after the Iranian Supreme Court ordered a retrial for the pastor sentenced to death for refusing to renounce his Christian beliefs.
Iranian media reported that the high court sent the case back to lower court because of concerns about the initial investigation.
"If there is an appeal and the case is returned to the supreme court, the case will be reviewed," read a statement quoted by ISNA, the Iranian student's news agency, AFP reports.
Pressure is currently mounting against Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani's impending execution. Several state heads have called for his release. In the US, at least 39 members of Congress have now signed a letter demanding that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton push for the Iranian pastor’s freedom.
Before being arrested, Nadarkhani pastored a 400-strong Christian congregation. It was reported that he protested against authorities after his son was forced to read from the Quran in school. He was later arrested. In June 2010, his wife, Fatemeh Pasandideh, was also arrested in an apparent attempt to pressure him to renounce his faith. She was released in October 2010, according to Amnesty International.
Let's continue to pray for divine strength and comfort for Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani as he continues to make a stand for Christ and the Gospel.
Iranian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani was detained in June 2010 along with wife Fatemeh Pasandideh in the city of Rasht in northwestern Iran because of their Christian activities. Iranian Islam laws advocate execution for Arabs who are proven to have practiced Islam during their adult years but later on converted to another faith.
Iran though, denies that the crime they are accusing Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani is related to his Christian activities. In an attempt to prove their claim, they have hurled several unfounded accusations against Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, including "security charges" and his supposed "running of a brothel".
The Present Truth Ministries (PTM) learned that the verdict to whether execute the Iranian pastor or not will be announced on Monday, October 10. A recantation of his faith in Jesus Christ and a decision on his part to return to Islam appears to be his only way out of the execution.
Let's pray for spiritual strength for Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani. Let's also asked the Lord to save his life, if possible. May Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani's current situation move us to always pray for Christians serving in countries that are against the Gospel.
We will try our best to update you on the development of this story.
Old Akha woman
Here's another indigenous tribe you may want to reach for Christ. God's salvation is also for them
The Akhas of Thailand is one of the six tribes forming what Thais call as the Hill Tribes. They arrived in Thailand in 1905 with 80,000 now living in Thailand's northern provinces of Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai at high altitudes. Their villages are accessible via tour treks provided in Thailand. They speak Akha, a language in the Loloish (Yi) branch of the Tibeto-Burman family.
Akhas are expert farmers. Their agriculture is focused on mountain rice, corn, and soybeans that are planted in seasonal shifts. The Akha are also very efficient hunters, although their prey sometimes includes endangered species. There were a few Akhas that once grew opium for income. Recently, they are benefiting from the revenues in tourisms in the lands they occupy.
Although many Akha, especially younger people, profess Christianity, Akha Zang (The Akha Way) still runs deep in their consciousness. One of the myths they believe is that guardian spirits dwell in ornately carved village gates made of wood. They have en extensive recollection of ancestors going back 15 generations and exhibited in chants. This particularly heavy emphasis on genealogy, proof of which is their strong focus on honoring ancestors and their parents seem to represent a form of ancestor worship, although they deny that this is what they are doing.
Currently, Akhas are experiencing controversies related to human rights and justice. The root of these controversies are the lands they occupy which are rich with timber and very suitable for farming that lends them to the interest of profit-oriented institutions. Another controversy they have is against the government because of their slash and burn agricultural practice. This practice tends to destroy national forests containing native ecosystems.
Do you have a heart for international missions and would like to go where God's love is really needed? Meet the people of Nepal. Below are some facts about this country (from Vision Beyond Borders--- their website) you may need in deciding to go there and be an ambassador of the Gospel:
- a country locked between China and India
- ranked among the poorest and least developed nations in the world (1/3 of the population lives below poverty line)
- Population: 30,000,000
- 48% literacy rate
- 80% of its population practices Hinduism
- Human trafficking is a serious problem in this country (10,000-15,000 girls are tricked or sold every year into servitude, either as domestic, factory or sex workers). "Dalals" (brokers) sell Nepali girls for around
$2,500 to the brothels of Mumbai.
- an estimate of over 100,000 Nepali women work in Indian brothels, over half of which are HIV positive
We hope and pray that God would raise new laborers for the work of spreading the Gospel to the Nepali people, thereby giving them the assurance of a better life in Heaven someday.
The Karen people of Burma are the largest and oldest indigenous tribe in this country which is currently ruled by a ruthless military dictatorship. The Karen and other ethnic tribes are being systematically exterminated with the intent on seizing their tribal lands, which are rich in valuable minerals and other natural resources. About 50% of the ethnic minorities in Burma are Christians in a predominantly Buddhist society, and are oppressed and persecuted for their faith.
Michael Jones traveled to Southeast Asia with Patrick Klein of Vision Beyond Borders, a Christian relief ministry helping the Karen refugees who have escaped to Thailand. Watch this video which the team from Vision Beyond Borders (http://www.visionbeyondborders.org) made which documents the struggles, pain and strength of faith of the Christian Karens. The program features Kirk Cameron as host and narrator. Video Link.
May their story inspire us to go further in sharing the Gospel.
"Approximately 700 million Dalits, low-caste and tribal people live in Asia today. They face extreme segregation and prejudice on a daily basis. They are often denied access to safe drinking water, freedom of worship, their choice of occupation—and even a basic education. In some places, in fact, the illiteracy rate is as high as 90 percent." - Gospel for Asia
It's sad to think that these beautiful children are being treated as scum just because they were born in a certain caste. The good news is that ministries like Gospel for Asia are reaching these children, and for the first time, they're discovering that they are loved.
Read more about the Dalits, click here.
Open Doors works in the world's most oppressive countries, strengthening Christians to stand strong in the face of persecution and equipping them to shine Christ's light in these dark places.
North Korea is one of the most difficult countries in the world for Christians to live in. April 24-30 is North Korea Freedom Week. Open Doors call every Christian to pray for this country and for the Christians there who are faithfully standing for their faith despite the persecution they experience. To know more about the program of prayer that Open Doors has organized for Freedom Week, click this link: North Korea Freedom Week.