"Believe ... Or Else"
March 1, 2012
(Jesus said) "Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life." Revelation 2:10
The topic for today's Daily Devotion was called to my attention by Rev. Nabil S. Nour of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Armour, South Dakota.
"Narrow-minded, antagonistic Christians are responsible for most of the world's problems."
That was the argument I recently overheard when I was on a plane traveling to a speaking engagement. At the end of the trip, I apologized for my eavesdropping and encouraged the speaker to look at the story of Youssef Nadarkhani of Iran.
If you have never heard of Nadarkhani, please allow me to share. Nadarkhani, a pastor from Rasht, Iran, was arrested in October of 2009, when he tried to register the house church, where he is the pastor. Eventually, the authorities decided he was guilty of apostasy, that is, he had converted to Christianity from Islam.
In Iran, the punishment for converting to Christianity is death by hanging.
Now the truth is this: although Nadarkhani's family is Muslim, he was an unbeliever when the Holy Spirit called him to faith in Jesus as his Savior. That was a fact the courts decided to ignore. Nadarkhani was convicted and sentenced to death.
It was then the world's Christian community began to get involved in protesting the severity of the verdict. Only then did the Ayatollah Larijani, the head of Iran's court system, come forward to ask Nadarkhani's case be retried.
According to those who have followed the case and the Ayatollah, this recommendation was mainly made so the world will forget Nadarkhani and get involved with other matters.
In the meantime Iranian authorities will continue to exert any and all pressure to win Nadarkhani back to Islam. If the past sets any precedent, Nadarkhani will be told his wife also has been arrested (she was jailed for a while last year) and that his two boys will be taken from him and placed in an Islamic family. (This also happened, albeit temporarily.)
So that is the story of Nadarkhani; it is also the story of many pastors and Christian laity, who are publicly sharing the Savior's story of salvation in the Islamic nations of the Mideast.
This is why I would like to enlist your help in prayer.
Let us ask the Lord to help brothers and sisters like Youssef to stand firm in the faith and the salvation that has been given them through Jesus' life, death and resurrection. Further, please ask the Lord to bless and keep safe those of The Lutheran Hour staff, who are responsible for broadcasting the Savior's story into those Mideast nations where sharing Jesus' plan of salvation has been outlawed.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, send Your holy angels to minister to and strengthen Christians who are suffering for the Savior. Keep them faithful until death, so they may receive the crown of life. Lord we also pray for the Lutheran Hour Ministries staff, who are telling the lost of what Jesus has done to save them. Keep them all in Your care and under Your protection. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries