He and I are roughly the same age. Both of us are married and have children in elementary school. Both of us are pastors.
We were baptized into the same name and we're part of the same body. We both believe and proclaim the resurrected Jesus. His suffering is my suffering, and his victory is my victory. I am Youcef Nadarkhani and so are you.
There are some differences between us, though:
Youcef is from Iran; I'm from America.
While I was driving to church on Sunday, Youcef was sitting in a prison cell. While I was worshipping my Savior freely, he is facing potential execution for telling people about Jesus.
While we're debating which presidential candidate will best serve our personal interests, Youcef is imprisoned by a government that plans to hang him for his testimony of faith.
Sadly, Youcef's case is not isolated or rare. Iran is not the only country where men and women are persecuted, imprisoned, tortured, or executed for believing in Jesus.
These men and women should matter to us because they are a part of Christ's body. If they suffer, we suffer. If they weep, we weep.
Caring about those who are in prison for their faith in Christ isn't simply a nice thing to do with our free time. It's an obligation commanded in the Scriptures.
Many of my readers are college students, young professionals, and other influential men and women. You're in a position to have a voice and to make an impact. Let's not allow Youcef's story and those like it to be forgotten with the next news cycle. Let's make it known that Christians don't abandon or forget the suffering among us.
What can we do?
- Pray. Pray that Youcef's testimony will strengthen his fellow believers in Iran. Pray that he'll be courageous and hold firmly to the faith. Pray the government of Iran will release Youcef and allow him to practice his faith freely.
- Remember and help others remember. Keep spreading the word on Facebook, Twitter, and any other social media. When you pray with your friends, pray for Youcef and his family. As Hebrews 13:3 commands, let's remember him because he is part of the body and so are we. We're in prison with him, and with everybody who is there for the name of Christ.
- Take action. This link includes a way you can email Iran's representative to the United Nations and ask him to seek Youcef's release.
For those who know Jesus, solidarity with the persecuted church is a reflection of our love for Christ. So in His name, let's express our identification with Youcef and with our persecuted brothers and sisters around the world.
I am Youcef Nadarkhani, and so are you. Because we are the Church, the body of Christ, united in victory and in suffering.
What other ideas do you have for encouraging and supporting the persecuted church around the world?
(Image via www.aclj.org)
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