Nadarkhani free, but still reason to pray

Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Charlie Butts (

Even though a Christian is no longer under the death penalty in Iran, one group is maintaining focus on other persecuted Christians in the country.

Ann Buwalda of the Jubilee Campaign reports that Youcef Nadarkhani had been sentenced to die for converting to the Christian faith (see earlier story), but a court over the weekend lifted the death penalty and released him from prison after three years.

Buwalda, Ann (Jubilee Campaign)"Iran basically backed down under international pressure. It's so clear that without the international, pressure this would never have happened," Buwalda asserts. "So, we need to praise God, and we need to thank everyone who wrote letters, who prayed and so forth, because this is a milestone and a breakthrough with Iran."

But she points out that at least 16 Christians are still behind bars who need prayer, as does the underground church.

"There are amazing things happening in Iran through the house churches in terms of growing numbers of Iranians are coming to the Lord," the human rights advocate reports. "There's an openness to the gospel like we've never seen before, and of course the Iranian government has been trying to figure out what to do to stop it."

So far, that has been a matter of rounding up Christians and jailing them for a time -- keeping some in prison and giving them the choice of converting to Islam or remaining behind bars.

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The importance of prayer for the persecuted

Christians and Christian organizations are making plans now for the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, which will be held this year on Sunday, November 11.