The other day I was thinking about a certain current event story that has really gripped me for the past several months. An Iranian man by the name of Youcef Nadarkhani has been incarcerated in Iran since 2009, and is currently being threatened with execution simply because he has recanted Islam and accepted Christ into his life, and has served as an evangelical pastor. With the dangerously radical Islamic theocracy that Iran is, anyone accused of abandoning Islam to preach the gospel of Christ is at a huge risk, as the penalty for apostasy is death. So that has been Pastor Youcef's fate, except that it has somehow been dragged out since 2009, and there has been just enough international pressure on Iran to release him... which has delayed his execution. Youcef has been pressured several times to recant his Christian faith and "return to Islam," but each time he was asked to do so, his response was, "I cannot."
So in short, Pastor Youcef has become a sort of hero for me, and certainly a champion of true faith. I haven't been following the story for very long, but I've felt compelled to honor this courageous warrior for the faith by painting his portrait. I wish more people knew his story, and hopefully God may use me to help make that happen. The latest is that Youcef is still alive, and hopefully by a great miracle we'll see him reunited with his family some day. But I suppose the fact that he is still alive after all this time is a miracle as well.
|Underpainting for "Brother Youcef Nadarkhani"|