Iranian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, already under sentence of death for conducting worship services and baptizing coverts to Christianity, is in increased danger of actual execution because of new charges of treason which claim that Pastor Nadarkhani is a Zionist.
Iranian law has recently changed in order to allow the execution of accused people who have already been convicted on other charges.
Meanwhile, American pastor Saeed Abendi has been sentenced to eight years in Iran's brutal Evin prison for evangelism.
Pastor Abendi worked during the last decade in support of Iran's house church movement, which has since been adjudged to be a threat to Iranian national security.
In this time when even American Christians are so ignorant of the Bible and the history and teachings of Christianity and have- often unwittingly- often effectively abandoned Christianity for a kind of low-maintenence Gnosticism, it's easy for us to feel sorry for ourselves. It's even easier since an even more biblically and historically ignorant- and often actively malicious- media and popular culture seem so intent on ridiculing, emasculating and debunking the Faith at every turn, and a national administration has effectively embraced their program, if not their rhetoric.
But it's helpful even at difficult times like this to remind ourselves that there are places in the wolrd where naming the Name of Christ is to put one's life and freedom, as well as the safety of one's loved ones, in actual danger.
Prayers for Pastor Abendi and the persecuted church in Iran and throughout the world are very much in order. May we draw strength from their witness in our own battle against the darkness here at home.