Media outlets around the world have followed Iranian Christian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani as he was imprisoned after questioning the school his sons (now 7 and 9) attend regarding the teaching of the Koran in their classes.
The imprisonment wasn’t because he complained, supposedly, but “that led to his arrest for allegedly using his home as a place of worship and attempting to convert Muslims and ultimately his conviction by the Iranian Supreme Court. His release came when the court downgraded his crime to “evangelizing to Muslims” and let him out with what amounted to time served,” Fox News reports.
There are so many different things I want to say about this, but the awesome thing (to me) is that he didn’t retaliate against those who held him captive.
Instead, on the day of his release–three years later–he wrote a thank you letter to his supporters and did not say anything negative toward those who arrested or held him in prison.
Which made me think of what I would do in that situation.
If I was arrested because I was in some way violating what the government dictated as my “religious freedom” and imprisoned for three years while my spouse and children learned to live without me. What would I say if I had the chance to write 600 words to the public?
Would I defend myself? Attack those who arrested me? Thank those who prayed for my release?
I have no idea what I would do, but I hope my response would be just as Christ-exalting and God-glorifying as Nadarkhani’s.
To me, his response (or lack thereof) embodied Jesus’ words in Matthew:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.
-Jesus, Matthew 5:38-42 ESV