Friday, September 30, 2011

Praying for Christians Facing Persecution

Iran's Supreme Court has refused to overturn a death sentence pronounced on a former Muslim who now preaches Christianity. Only the mercy of the lower courts can save Youcef Nadarkhani from execution.

Many Muslim countries allow professing Christians to profess their faith.
But many of these countries look differently at Muslims who convert to other religions. This is the sin of apostasy, irtidad, and in many Muslim countries it is punishable by death. So far as I know, the basis for this harsh penalty is not the teaching of the Quran, but rather the traditions handed down through the centuries (Hadith). And it is by no means the unanimous opinion of Muslims that the tradition requires the death penalty. 

Nevertheless, many who call themselves Christians face confiscation of property, imprisonment, or even death in many places in the world (and not just Muslim nations). It is easy for Christians in America to think that 2 Timothy 3:12 is no longer relevant, that the godly no longer face persecution. But we need to remember that while we enjoy freedoms and peace here in the U.S., many of our brothers and sisters around the world do not.

When God established the nation of Israel, He imposed severe penalties on those who apostatized and followed other gods (Deuteronomy 13:1-18). After all, Israel was a theocracy, and apostasy was tantamount to treason, a crime subject to the severest penalty even in our own law. But under the New Covenant, the Lord does not order political coercion. In fact, He was rejected by the people because He did not endorse the political/military vision of the Messiah they expected (see Mark 10:43-45).

Please pray for those facing duress for the cause of Christ (1 Thessalonians 1:2-7). Pray for those who persecute and hate (Matthew 5:44-45).  And pray for God's word to grow in power (Colossians 4:3-4).


  1. Mr. Scott:

    I would think it prudent to urge people to pray for victims of all religious persecution, not just those who are Christian. After all, Christianity is the majority religion in the world, and it's that way for a reason.

  2. Thanks for addressing this, brother. Very good thoughts. We'll be praying for Youcef.