Iranian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, who was released Sept. 8 after three years imprisonment, issued a letter shortly after his new-found freedom, thanking his supporters and God for helping him through his difficult journey.
Nadarkhani begins his Sept. 8 "thank you" letter, made available by persecution watchdog Present Truth Ministries, by offering his gratitude for those who prayed for him during his imprisonment. He then goes on to describe the challenges he faced during his three years in Iranian prisons.
"Indeed I have been put to the test, the test of faith which is, according to the Scripture, 'more precious than perishable gold,'" Nadarkhani writes.
"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."
The pastor, age 35, goes on to thank God for providing guidance to the Iranian government, which exhibited flippant behavior throughout the three-year court process, but ultimately chose to release him on Sept. 8.
"Despite the fact that I have been found guilty of apostasy according to a certain reading of the Shar'ia, 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 Shar'ia," Nadarkhani writes.
"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."
Naddarkhani concludes his letter by suggesting that his court case offers a "critical and constructive" look at the past, allowing "the writing of universal texts aiming at the promotion of the rights of man."
"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," Nadarkhani writes.
The Iranian pastor was arrested in Oct. 2009 and charged with apostasy and attempting to evangelize Muslims. After three years imprisonment with an execution sentence, Nadarkhani was released on Sept. 8, 2012, after a judge cut apostasy from his charges, giving the pastor a three-year sentencing.
Nadarkhani was released on Sept. 8, as he had already served his three-year sentence, starting in Oct. 2009.
The American Center for Law and Justice, which has been heavily involved in Nadarkhani's trial, told The Christian Post shortly after his release, "[Nadarkhani's] story is an example of how the world can join together to ensure that justice is served and freedom preserved."
"[…] we must not forget the human right of freedom of religion includes the right to freedom of expression. We must also not forget the numerous other religious minorities in Iran who are imprisoned and face persecution for their faith," the conservative Christian group added.
Nadarkhai joins his wife, Fatema Pasindedih, and their two sons after being released from prison.
The pastor's lawyer, Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, however, continues to face the threat of a nine-year prison sentence for his past involvement in human rights cases, including serving as Nadarkhani's legal aide.
Youcef Nadarkhani's Sept. 8, 2012 "Thank You Letter" in Full:
Not to us, LORD, not to us, but to Your Name be glory, for Your faithfulness, for Your loyalty… Psalm
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 (sic) 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 judgement 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 un 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, everything 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 !
8 September 2012