Iran (MNN) — Iranian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani was back in court over the weekend. Many believed he was going to receive additional charges.
But Todd Nettleton with Voice of the Martyrs says that wasn't the case. "Instead, the court withdrew the guilty verdicts for apostasy and the resulting death sentence. They pronounced him guilty of acts of evangelism to Muslims and sentenced him to three years in prison. He had been in prison two years and 11 months. So, they accepted a bail payment and allowed him to go free one month early. He is back with his family right now."
Nettleton says it's a miracle.
Nettleton also says the international pressure had an impact. "I think if nobody had heard of Pastor Youcef, this would be this would be a much different story, and I don't think he'd be with his family right now."
Iran seems to care about what the world thinks of them, to a point, states Nettleton. "Iran is interested in what the countries in the European Union think of them. They are interested in some of the other countries in the world, but they don't really care what the United States thinks because our two governments are so at odds."
Christians worldwide were surprised by this move. Nettleton said he expected charges like "espionage or spying, and then they could execute him and say, 'Well, it wasn't a religious crime. It wasn't religious persecution. He was guilty of spying. He was guilty of espionage."
Keep praying. Sometimes after Christians are released, they face persecution and even death.
The great news is: the church in Iran is growing. Nettleton says Islamic leaders run Iran. "When there is frustration with the government, that translates very easily to frustration with Islam because it's the mullahs who ARE the government. The people are so hungry for something else."
Many are finding Christ through satellite Christian television and the internet. Many churches have been established.