Saturday, February 25, 2012


Charlie and I have been involved in prison/jail ministry for thirty years. Last week I was privileged to attend a GED graduation ceremony at Bleckley PDC, our local detention center.

Watching the graduates enter the multi-purpose room to the taped majestic notes of Pomp and Circumstance, I couldn’t help but thinking; how different punishment would have been for these young men if they had been convicted for their crimes in Iran.

Under Sharia Law, capital punishment is the norm for those who have committed murder, rape, adultery, pedophilia, sodomy, drug trafficking, treason, armed robbery and of course disrespect or destruction of the Koran.

In 2009 a Christian pastor was arrested for leaving Islam and converting to Christianity. Although he had never practiced the faith of Islam, he was born into a Muslim family, therefore making it illegal to convert to Christianity or any other religion. The penalty: death.

After several appeals, a trial court has issued its final verdict and ordered Youcef Nadarkhani, a 34 year old father of two, put to death. Nadarkhani had approximately 400 believers in his congregation. He refused to denounce his faith in Christ and was eventually arrested.

“The case has come to international attention and the final verdict to execute Nadarkhani was handed down only days after lawmakers in Congress supported a resolution denouncing the apostasy charge.” (American Center for Law and Justice)

Pennsylvania Rep. Joe Pitts, who introduced the legislation, told Fox News, “Iran has become more isolated because of their drive for nuclear weapons and ….has stepped up persecution of religious minorities to deflect criticism. The persecuted are their own citizens whose only crime is practicing their faith.”

This week as I began preparations for our ninth annual Bible Reading Marathon; I thought of this pastor and what he and his family have been going through. Once again I gave thanks for the freedoms we enjoy in America. How long we will enjoy these freedoms is anybody’s guess.

Nearly 2500 years ago in Iran (formerly called Persia) religious freedom was also at stake. There were those who hated God’s people then, even as there are those in Iran today who hate God’s people.

A very bold woman, Queen Esther, made a stand for her people and her God. As a result of her courageous actions; Haman, the wicked perpetrator of this persecution, was defeated and God’s people were spared.

Esther’s uncle, Mordecai appealed to her with these words, “Who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this.” (Esther 4:15) Those words and strength from the Lord gave her the courage to appeal to the king on behalf of her people.

The annual observance of this great deliverance is celebrated March 7-8, this year and is called the Feast of Purim. Haman, the enemy of the Jewish people, was hung on the very gallows he had prepared for Mordecai.

Throughout history there have been other ‘Hamans’ who have sought to annihilate God’s chosen people. From the time of the Syrian, Antiochus Epiphanes in 175 B.C. to Germany’s Hitler in the 1940’s; the Jews have been the objects of demonic hatred.

We now have a 21st Century Haman, Mahmoud Ahmedinajad. This modern day Haman is also from ancient Persia (Iran) and is bent on destroying the Jewish race. Will he succeed? Not according to the Bible. Ezekiel 38:5 clearly states that: although Iran will come against Israel in the end times, it will be defeated by God Himself!
“I will rain down on him, on his troops, and on the many peoples who are with him, flooding rain, great hailstones, fire, and brimstone. Thus I will magnify Myself and sanctify Myself, and I will be known in the eyes of many nations. Then they shall know that I am the Lord.” (Ezekiel 38:23-24)

My name is not Esther, but concerning the matter of the imprisoned Christian pastor in Iran I can do something to help and so can you! There is a website where we can sign a petition for his release. ( We can also urge members of Congress to help save this man’s life. Perhaps we have come to the kingdom for such a time as this.


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