Christian Persecution Is Growing Around the World

Posted by Randy | Labels: , , , , , , , | Posted On Friday, September 21, 2012 at 10:07 AM

When we think of persecution, we often think of folks being persecuted for political reasons, and certainly the events over the last year or so in what has come to be called the "Arab Spring" illustrate this. But estimates are that 75% of the people persecuted in the world today are persecuted for being Christians. In fact, more Christians died for their faith in the 20th Century than in all previous centuries combined. And estimates are that 159,900 Christians are martyred each year for their faith.

An example is the story of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani in Iran. Below is a timeline of his life over the last three years:

  • October 2009
  •  – Christian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani was arrested. The authorities eventually charged him with apostasy – abandoning Islam for Christianity.
  • September 2010
  •  – Iranian court verbally sentenced Pastor Youcef to death for his faith.
  • November 2010
  •  – Iranian trial court issued a written death sentence for Pastor Youcef.
  • December 2010
  •  – Pastor Youcef appealed his conviction and execution to Iran’s Supreme Court.
  • June 2011
  •  – Iran’s Supreme Court in Qom, Iran, upheld Youcef’s apostasy conviction and death sentence by hanging for apostasy, remanding the case for a factual inquiry into whether Pastor Youcef was a practicing Muslim at age of majority before choosing Christianity.
  • September 2011
  •  – Iranian trial court determined that Youcef had abandoned the faith of his ancestors because he was born to Muslim parents and rejected Islam after the age of majority. The Court verbally reaffirmed his death sentence, unless he recanted his Christian faith. For three days, the Iranian trial court demanded that Pastor Youcef recant his faith or die, to which he responded, “I cannot.”
  • October 2011
  •  – Iranian trial court requested the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, provide advice on the case – effectively placing Pastor Youcef’s fate in the Ayatollah’s hands.
  • October 2011
  •  – Iran’s Ministry of Information clerics forced Islamic literature on Pastor Youcef and pressured him to recant his Christian faith.
  • January 2012
  •  – The Iranian regime again pressured Pastor Youcef to recant his faith or die.
  • March 2012
  •  – Iranian government officials admit to the world that Pastor Youcef’s charges concern his Christian faith.
  • April 2, 2012
  •  – Pastor Youcef is able to see his son on his son’s birthday, one of only a handful of times that they had been permitted to see each other in his nearly two-and-a-half years in prison.
  • April 11, 2012
  •  – Pastor Youcef celebrates his 35th birthday, his third birthday spent illegally imprisoned in Iran for his faith.
  • July 8, 2012
  •  – Pastor Youcef has been illegally imprisoned for his faith for 1000 days.
  • September 8, 2012
  •  – Victory: Pastor Youcef is released! After the world united for his cause, and the Church rose up in prayer, Pastor Youcef was reunited with his family after almost 3 years in prison.

This information comes from the website 48 Hours for Freedom, which also included this press release below:
Sep. 8, 2012 

Today marks a day of celebration. After languishing in prison for almost three years, under the threat of execution for his faith, Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani has been released from prison and acquitted of his apostasy charge.

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.

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.

Your prayers, your advocacy, and your voice has been heard. Please continue to pray for Pastor Youcef’s safety. Please join us for 48 Hours for Religious Freedom on September 22-23, 2012, for the numerous other Christians persecuted in Iran. As more facts come out about the release of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, we will keep you posted.

If you would like to join in praying for Pastor Youcef, you can certainly join in the activities of this weekend, but it doesn't need to end then, and it shouldn't! This is a tragedy that seldom fails to make the news. Crowds are rioting around the Arab world about a video made by one individual related to the prophet Mohammed, but many say little or nothing about the tens of thousands of Christ followers who are dying each year for their faith.
I hope you will join me in praying for Pastor Youcef, but also to be praying for Christ followers around the world who are not free to openly live their faith. I thank God I live in a land where we are free to worship as we felt led, and I pray more and more will experience that freedom so they can know the Savior and Lord of the world, Jesus Christ!