Originally published in Fox News.com
Christian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani has spoken out in a letter of thanks to his supporters around the world after his release from the Iranian prison where he was held for three years for refusing to renounce his faith. (See letter below)
The carefully worded, approximately 600-word letter does not express any bitterness toward the regime that kept him in prison on charges that were not always clear. Nadarkhani, a married father, was freed one month shy of three years and cannot leave the country for at least another month under the terms of his release. The letter cites the groundswell of support from around the world, including diplomatic efforts by several countries and a Twitter campaign that involved more than a million people.
“I want to express my gratitude to all of those who have supported me, openly or in complete secrecy.”
“I also want to express my gratitude towards those who, all around the world, have worked for my cause, or should I say the cause that I defend. You are all very dear to my heart,” Nadarkhani said in the letter dated Sept. 8, the day he was released. It was written in his native Farsi and translated by Present Truth Ministries.
“Despite the fact that I have been found guilty of apostasy according to a certain reading of the Shariah, I am grateful that (God) gave the leaders of the country the wisdom to break that judgment taking into account other facts of that same Shariah,” he also wrote.
Nadarkhani’s plight began when he went to his sons’ school to complain that educators were forcing lessons from the Koran on the boys, now 7 and 9. That led to his arrest for allegedly using his home as a place of worship and attempting to convert Muslims and ultimately his conviction by the Iranian Supreme Court. His release came when the court downgraded his crime to “evangelizing to Muslims” and let him out with what amounted to time served.
The campaign to win Nadarkhani’s freedom was largely spearheaded by the American Center for Law and Justice, which tracked his court appearances throughout his incarceration.
“Pastor Youcef’s courage and faith is awe inspiring. It is clear that regardless of whether Pastor Youcef ever received one letter of support of the thousands sent or heard one news report on the international outcry for his freedom while in prison, he felt the prayers and support of the entire international community,” Tiffany Barrans, the center’s international legal director, told FoxNews.com.
The organization also has spotlighted several other Christians who remain imprisoned in Iran for their faith
“We must continue to uplift and support those who remain imprisoned or persecuted for their faith,” Barrans said. “Let us continue to cry out that Iran, and other violators of these human rights, uphold their international obligation to protect the innocent and honour freedom of religion.”
“We must continue to uplift and support those who remain imprisoned or persecuted for their faith,” Barrans said. “Let us continue to cry out that Iran, and other violators of these human rights, uphold their international obligation to protect the innocent and honor freedom of religion.”
Nadarkhani’s letter reads:
Not to us, LORD, not to us, but to Your Name be glory , for Your faithfulness, for Your loyalty….Psalm 115:1
Salaam! (Peace be upon you!)
I glorify and give grace to the Lord with all my heart. I am grateful for all the blessings that He gave me during my whole life. I am especially grateful for His goodness and divine protection that characterized the time of my detention.
I also want to express my gratitude towards those who, all around the world, have worked for my cause, or should I say the cause that I defend. I want to express my gratitude to all of those who have supported me, openly or in complete secrecy . You are all very dear to my heart. May the Lord bless you and give you His perfect and sovereign Grace.
Indeed I have been put to the test, the test of faith which is, according to the Scriptures “more precious than perishable gold.” But I have never felt loneliness, I was all the time aware of the fact that it wasn’t a solitary battle, for I have felt all the energy and support of those who obeyed their conscience and fought for the promotion of the justice and the rights of all human beings. Thanks to these efforts, I have now the enormous joy to be by my wonderful wife and my children. I am grateful for these people through whom God has been working. All of this is very encouraging.
During that period, I had the opportunity to experience in a marvellous way the Scripture that says: “Indeed, as the sufferings of Christ abound for us, our encouragement abound through Christ.” He has comforted my family and has given them the means to face that difficult situation. In His Grace, He provided for their spiritual and material needs, taking away from me a heavy weight.
The Lord has wonderfully provided through the trial, allowing me to face the challenges that were in front of me. As the Scriptures says, “He will not allow us to be tested beyond our strength….”
Despite the fact that I have been found guilty of apostasy according to a certain reading of the Shar’ia, I am grateful that He gave the leaders of the country , the wisdom to break that judgment taking into account other facts of that same Shar’ia. It is obvious that the defenders of the Iranian right and the legal experts have made an important effort to enforce the law and the right. I want to thank those who have defended the right until the end.
I am happy to live in a time where we can take a critical and constructive look to the past. This has allowed the writing of universal texts aiming at the promotion of the rights of man. Today , we are debtors of these efforts provided by dear people who have worked for the respect of human dignity and have passed on to us these universal significant texts.
I am also debtor of those who have faithfully passed on the Word of God, that very Word who makes us heirs of God.
Before ending, I want to express a prayer for the establishment of an unending and universal peace, so that the will of the Father be done on earth as it is in heaven. Indeed, every thing passes, but the Word of God, source of all peace, will last eternally .
May the grace and mercy of God be multiplied to you. Amen!
Youcef Nadarkhani 8 September 2012