Eugene Cho

Youcef Nadarkhani: What would you do if your pastor was going to be executed?

April 7, 2012 Update: “As Christians around the world prepare to celebrate Easter, Iranian pastor Yousef Nadarkhani remains in jail alive, yes — but having already passed his 900th day behind bars for being a Christian and still facing a possible execution. Nadarkhani, whose first name also can be spelled “Youcef,” was able to visit with a son on the son’s birthday Monday (April 2), according to the American Center for Law and Justice, which is closely monitoring the case. His 900th day in jail occurred in late March.’ [read full news]

* On this Easter weekend, join me in praying for Pastor Nadarkhani and so many others around the world who are facing persecution – even death – for their faith in Jesus Christ. “In more than 40 nations around the world today Christians are being persecuted for their faith. In some of these nations it is illegal to own a Bible, to share your faith Christ, change your faith or teach your children about Jesus.” [via Persecution Worldwide]

Feb. 2, 2012 Update: The latest news is very difficult. According to numerous sources including CNN and FOX News, Iranian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani has been given the ruling to be executed:

A trial court in Iran has issued its final verdict, ordering a Christian pastor to be put to death for leaving Islam and converting to Christianity, according to sources close to the pastor and his legal team.

Supporters fear Youcef Nadarkhani, a 34-year-old father of two who was arrested over two years ago on charges of apostasy, may now be executed at any time without prior warning, as death sentences in Iran may be carried out immediately or dragged out for years.

The entire world – regardless of faith or non-faith backgrounds should be in solidarity to declare that “a person cannot be put to death because of one’s faith.” This is an egregious human rights tragedy and clear affront to religious freedom. Please take a few minutes to educate yourself, read this post, contact your elected officials, and help spread the word.


What would you do if your pastor was going to be executed simply for his or her faith?

For that matter, what would you do?

Such is the situation for more people around the world than we want to believe. We know that persecution of Christians began…well…when it began with the life, crucifixion, and resurrection of Christ.  Some Christian missions organizations cite that an estimated 100 million Christians face some form of persecution including death and concentrations camps – particularly in North Korea, Iran, and Saudi Arabia. I’ve written before of the concentration camps for mostly Christians in North Korea.

And this leads us to the story of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani. He may be executed simply because of his faith.  According to Islamic law, a person is given three opportunities to recant. He has already been asked twice. After the third time, he can be executed at any time. Pastor Youcef’s response upon one of his trials when asked to recant:

“Repent means to return. What should I return to? To the blasphemy that I had before my faith in Christ?” The judges replied , “To the religion of your ancestors, Islam.” To which he replied, “I cannot.”

Youcef and I are similar in numerous ways.  He is a follower of Christ and thus, my brother-in-Christ. He is a pastor as I am. He is a husband (to Fatemah Pasindedih) as I am (to Minhee). He is father to two children (ages 8 and 6) as I am to three children (12, 10, and 8).  And yet, he is facing death for his faith and practice of Christ.

His story is beyond the disputes we have about theology, denominations, nationalism, politics, and whatever else bent that influences us.

Here’s what I’d like to encourage you to do:

  1. EDUCATE. Read the story below from the Washington Post and educate yourselves. [here for RSS readers]
  2. ADVOCATE. Click this email form to write the Iranian embassy, urging them NOT to go ahead with the execution following the trial. I’ve included a copy of my letter in the comments.
  3. PRAY. Pray. And pray some more.
  4. SHARE. Share Pastor Yousef’s story and faith.

Here’s the news report from the Washington Post:

Just days after Iran released two Americans accused of spying, an Iranian court has upheld the apostasy conviction and executionsentence of Christian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani.

The 11th branch of Iran’s Gilan Provincial Court has determined that Nadarkhani has Islamic ancestry and therefore must recant his faith in Jesus Christ. Iran’s supreme court had previously ruled that the trial court must determine if Youcef had been a Muslim before converting to Christianity.

However, the judges, acting like terrorists with a hostage, demanded that he recant his faith in Christ before even taking evidence. The judges stated that even though the judgment they have made is against the current Iranian and international laws, they have to uphold the previous decision of the 27th Branch of the Supreme Court in Qom.

When asked to “repent” by the judges, Youcef stated, “Repent means to return. What should I return to? To the blasphemy that I had before my faith in Christ?” The judges replied , “To the religion of your ancestors, Islam.” To which he replied, “I cannot.”

It is reported that Youcef was able to see his children for the first time since March and was in good spirits speaking of how he longed to serve the church upon his release.

Pastor Youcef will be brought to the court for two additional “hearings” on September 27th and 28th for the sole purpose of being called upon to recant his Christian faith. The ACLJ’s sources report that although Pastor Youcef’s attorneys will attempt to appeal the case, there is no guarantee that the provincial court will not act on its own interpretation of Sharia law and execute pastor Youcef as early as Wednesday.

Technically, there is no right of appeal, and under Iran’s interpretation of Hadith and Sharia law, Pastor Youcef is to be given three chances to recant. He has already been asked to recant twice, and will be asked to do so again Tuesday. If he does not recant his Christian faith, he could be executed at any time.

We are continuing to press for the international community to take note of Youcef’s situation and call for his unconditional release. We are also continuing to work with members of Congress and are urging the State Department to get involved to save the life of this Christian pastor.

There is still time to save this pastor’s life.

Please share Youcef’s situation with anyone you know and pray for his release and the safety of his attorney, a brave Muslim who has been sentenced to nine years in prison and banned from practicing law by the Iranian government.

Firouz Sadegh-Khandjani, a Member of the Council of Elders for the Church of Iran and a close personal friend of Youcef, called into my radio show Tuesday from Iran to provide an update on Pastor Youcef. You can listen to the interview here.

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18 Responses

  1. Eugene Cho says:

    Here’s the email/letter I wrote:

    Your Excellency, the Ambassador of Iran,

    First of all, thank you very much for reading and passing on this appeal.

    I join my voice with others to express the deep concerns over the latest developments in Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani’s case.

    It is my hope that the Iranian judiciary will cease to pursue their current choice of action against Pastor Nadarkhani and will acquit him of all charges, in accordance with Iranian and international law.

    Lastly, I request that your Excellency, the Ambassador, will pass on this appeal to the Iranian Government as a matter of urgency.

    Eugene Cho

  2. JMS says:

    Here’s my letter:

    Your Excellency, the Ambassador of Iran,

    Please pass this appeal to the Iranian government on behalf of the People of the Book, as well as millions of your fellow Muslim brothers and sisters here in America who are pleading for the life of Pastor Nadarkhani.

    His execution will only tarnish the image of not just Iran, but also of Islam as a whole in the eyes of a watching world.

    He is a Christian. Please urge the Courts to treat him as such and spare his life as a follower of Isa.

    Iran is a sovereign state, but with sovereignty comes responsibility. I urge the government of Iran to spare the life of this brother.


    JM Smith

  3. […]  Permalink  Uncategorized  Add comments Sep 282011 var addthis_product = 'wpp-262'; var addthis_config = {"data_track_clickback":false}; Eugene Cho on the Iranian pastor about to die for his Lord. […]

  4. dmbaldwin says:

    I didn’t copy and past my email message here, but did send one just now. Those of us sitting in our comfortable living rooms in this country can at least ask for the life of this brother who is suffering so in a distant land.
    I am praying for his acquittal and release. Thank you so much for making us aware of this situation Eugene.

  5. Wayne Park says:

    my 0.02

    Your Excellency, the Ambassador of Iran,

    I join my voice with others in expressing a deep concern over the possible execution of Yousef Nadarkhani for religious reasons.

    It is my hope that the Iranian judiciary will cease to pursue their current choice of action against Nadarkhani and will acquit him of all charges, in accordance with Iranian and international law.

    Lastly, I request that your Excellency, the Ambassador, will pass on this appeal to the Iranian Government as a matter of urgency.

    Thank you for your consideration,
    Wayne Park

    hits awful close to home…

  6. […] email now. And do pray and do share with others. For more insight into this situation, please read Pastor Eugene Cho’s blog or this article from The Washington […]

  7. I just sent my email and sent several friends of mine a message with the link so they can do the same.

  8. benjamin says:

    it is my hope that freedom of association will be allowed to prevail and the life of this pastor spared. After all we serve one ultimate God; moslems and christians alike. May Allah bless whoever spares his life.

  9. […] what would you do if your pastor was going to be executed? ( […]

  10. Isioma says:

    for the sake of MOST HIGH GOD the life of this man should be spared and should not be executed

  11. […] what would you do if your pastor was going to be executed? ( LD_AddCustomAttr("AdOpt", "1"); LD_AddCustomAttr("Origin", "other"); LD_AddCustomAttr("theme_bg", "a8a8a8"); LD_AddCustomAttr("theme_border", "191819"); LD_AddCustomAttr("theme_text", "555555"); LD_AddCustomAttr("theme_link", "c52020"); LD_AddCustomAttr("theme_url", "c52020"); LD_AddCustomAttr("LangId", "1"); LD_AddCustomAttr("Autotag", "religion"); LD_AddCustomAttr("Tag", "christians-in-the-news"); LD_AddCustomAttr("Tag", "amnesty-international"); LD_AddCustomAttr("Tag", "christianity"); LD_AddCustomAttr("Tag", "iran"); LD_AddCustomAttr("Tag", "islam"); LD_AddCustomAttr("Tag", "manouchehr-mottaki"); LD_AddCustomAttr("Tag", "politics-of-iran"); LD_AddCustomAttr("Tag", "supreme-leader-of-iran"); LD_AddCustomAttr("Tag", "youcef-nadarkhani"); LD_AddSlot("LD_ROS_300-WEB"); LD_GetBids(); Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. […]

  12. Solomon C says:

    Just sent in my petition

  13. Lori says:

    Remember the prisoners as if chained with them—those who are mistreated—since you yourselves are in the body also. Hebrews 13:3

  14. […] Nadarkhani, for his wife and children. Praying fervently for him right now. Taking this from another blog I read about the situation, it sums up actions steps that can and should be […]

  15. […] Church cannot forget Kenneth Bae. We cannot forget the Kenneths, the Yousef Nadarkhani’s, the Pastor Saeed Abedini’s, and the thousands of other Christians around the world that are […]

  16. […] Church cannot forget Kenneth Bae. We cannot forget the Kenneths, the Yousef Nadarkhani’s, the Pastor Saeed Abedini’s, and the thousands of other Christians around the world that are […]

  17. […] Church cannot forget Kenneth Bae. We cannot forget the Kenneths, the Yousef Nadarkhani’s, the Pastor Saeed Abedini’s, and the thousands of other Christians around the world that are […]

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One Day’s Wages

My Instagram

Checking out Canada in case I need to move up North after the presidential election. Just saying, eh.

Downtown Toronto. Fascinating architecture. Amazed by the diversity of this city. We desperately want our children to not just be captivated by the beauty of creation...but more importantly, to the actual Creator of all that is good and beautiful.

Actually, we want and need this truth for our souls, too. What a privilege. This isn't possible without all those who give, pray, and support the work of @onedayswages. This week, I signed and mailed grants to three partner organizations totaling over $170,000. These grants will empower people by supporting maternal health care, refugee relief efforts, access to clean water, provide education, etc.

Sometimes, the brokenness of the world feel so overwhelming but let's keep running the race with endurance. Let's keep pursuing justice, mercy, and humility. Let's be faithful and may we be spurred on to keep working for God's Kingdom...on earth as it is in heaven.

Again, thank you so much for your support for @onedayswages! My wife, Minhee, and I stand on the shoulders of praying mothers. I'd like to take a moment to honor my mother-in-law. It's hard to put words together to embody her life but she is a very special, anointed person. I'm so blessed to have her as a mother in my life.

She was a devoted wife until she lost her husband to cancer, mother to three daughters, and later became a pastor. She became a follower of Christ as an adult and as such, led her her family to Christ. In her late 50s, she obeyed God's calling to go to seminary and be a leader in the church. She graduated #1 in her class and reminded us that it's never too late to follow a new dream or calling.

As she'll soon celebrate her 80th birthday, I'm especially grateful for the ways that she poured into and prayed over Minhee and her other children.  Even though she's officially retired, I'm inspired that the concept of retirement is not in her vocabulary.  She continues to serve the local church, evangelize and bear witness to Christ, and goes to the early morning prayer meeting at 5am everyday to pray for our family, our church, and for others. 
Jangmonim, we love and honor you. 어머니, 사랑합니다.

Someday, I hope that when my kids speak of Minhee and I...above all, they would say with integrity that their parents prayed for them and kept pointing them to Christ. On this Mother's Day, I want to take a few words to honor mother.

There’s a moment from a few years ago that will stick with me until the day I die. It’s regarding Sung Wha, my mother.

Minhee and I were at a point of transition, between working at an ethnic Korean church in the northern suburbs of Seattle called Lynnwood and launching Quest in urban Seattle. As I shared earlier, I was in desperate need of a job. I had a mortgage to pay. A pregnant wife. A kid at home. 
Then, praise God, after months without work, I finally landed a job.

My mom was in between jobs at this point in her life. She was in her late fifties, but she had such bad knees and degenerative hips that it was, and is, difficult for her to walk. My mom is like a human barometer—when a storm is coming and when it rains, her hips throb. Although my parents lived in San Francisco, she was visiting us in Seattle to encourage us in this difficult season.

As I prepared to go to work one early morning, I walked downstairs to put on my jacket and shoes, and forgot that my mother woke up early every morning to pray. In fact, she had been praying for months that I would find a job. “Eugene, where are you going?” she said when she saw me.

I hadn’t told my mother the news that I had just recently been hired for the janitorial gig at Barnes and Noble. I chose not to because I thought she and my father would be devastated. I didn’t want them to think that after laboring, sacrificing, and doing so much for us over all those years that their son had failed them.

But I couldn’t lie to her, so eventually I told my mom that I got a job and was going to work. “Great! What job? What are you doing?” “Um, I’m working at Barnes and Noble as their custodian,” I said finally.

Without asking another question, my mother got up from the dining table where she had been reading her Bible and praying. She slowly walked slowly toward me.

She approached me, then walked past me without saying a word, and I realized she was headed toward the closet. She opened the closet door, put on her jacket, turned around and said to me (in Korean), “Eugene, let’s go together. I will help you.” This is my mother. I love all the free amazing views in our Evergreen State. #RattlesnakeLedge

my tweets

  • Someone tell Steph Curry that he's the MVP because he's playing a lot like me in my rec league. || 2 hours ago
  • .@SeattleQuest recently hosted Kenneth Bae (Prisoner 103). He was detained in DPRK for 735days. WATCH his testimony: || 1 day ago
  • RT @seattlequest: Suffering is a short cut to God's heart. Even if your circumstances don't change, God is always w/ you. - KennethBae http… || 2 days ago
  • Oh Lord, You love North Korea, Syria, Iraq, Congo, Nigeria, Turkey and ______. You love the nations. Give us Your heart for the world. Amen. || 3 days ago
  • Please remember and pray for Pastor Lim Hyeon Soo who was sentenced for life in North Korea. || 3 days ago
  • If the grass looks greener on the other side...stop staring, stop comparing, stop complaining & start watering the grass you're standing on. || 4 days ago



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