Youcef Nadarkhani is free. The pastor who has languished in an Iranian prison for nearly three years was released on Saturday. He had been condemned to die for his faith, but he is now with his family. This is a personal victory for him, and I am grateful he has persevered and overcome the privations he suffered. He has proven his faith is genuine; he was willing to suffer a martyr’s fate for standing up for the truth of the Gospel.
But as an analysis of the situation notes, he was not fully exonerated by the Iranian regime. Although the apostasy charge was dismissed, he still was found guilty of conducting evangelistic activities. The penalty for that was three years in prison. He had served two years, eleven months, so upon payment of a fine, he was allowed to go free at this time. This is not real leniency on Iran’s part; it’s another attempt to pull the wool over the eyes of a confused and distracted West. His release also follows only one day after Canada cut off all diplomatic relations with Iran. “See,” they are saying, “we’re not that bad; it’s the evil Western countries like Canada that are the real problem.”
Meanwhile, other Christians remain in Iranian prisons for precisely the same reason Nadarkhani was incarcerated. For a fuller treatment of this story, and how this episode doesn’t indicate a softening of the Iranian stance, I highly recommend an article from Commentary, which you can access here.
What does the future hold for Nadarkhani and his family? Will he stay in Iran or leave? Biblically, he is under no obligation to remain where he and his family are in danger of death. He could leave with a clear conscience. On the other hand, each Christian must seek the Lord’s guidance as to where he will do the most good for the advancement of the Gospel. Perhaps he may believe the Lord is calling him to stay. Whatever he decides, I rejoice today that he is free to fulfill God’s will for him. His imprisonment was a testimony to the truth; the rest of his life can be as well. May he continue to draw close to the Lord, and may his efforts for Him be blessed.