**UPDATE** Further intercession has been requested for Iranian pastor, Yousef Nadarkhani who received a death sentence for apostasy (i.e. leaving Islam) in September 2010. Recall that he appealed to the Supreme Court who instructed the Revolutionary Tribunal of Gilan Province to review the case, specifically to verify whether Yousef was previously a practising Muslim. Yousef claims that, although raised in a Muslim home, he was never a Muslim by choice, conviction, belief or consistent practice, and that he should therefore not be regarded as an apostate.
It is reported that the first hearing has been scheduled for 25th September.
If the Tribunal concludes that Yousef was previously a Muslim and so is now an apostate, the Supreme Court’s ruling makes clear that he should then be executed, unless he recants his faith in Jesus as Saviour and Lord.
Recall that Yousef is a pastor within the Full Gospel ‘Church of Iran’ denomination in the northern city of Rasht. He has been detained in prison since October 2009. Yousef and his wife, Fatemeh, have two young sons, aged 9 and 7. Fatemeh was detained for four months in 2010.
Another ‘Church of Iran’ member, Behnam, has been detained in Karaj since 31st May. Five others, for whom we requested prayer in April, have been summoned to serve a one-year sentence in Shiraz, following unsuccessful appeals against the sentence passed in March. They are considering how to respond to the summons.
We are pleased to report that two believers, Vahid and Reza from Tabriz, were released on bail on 21st August, having been detained on 15th July. Other believers remain detained for their faith in Iran. There is no further news of Noorallah from Dezfool, Farshid in Tehran, or Leila in Tehran, all of whom remain detained.
Iranian Christians thank us for our prayers. They request our continued intercession that:
a. Yousef will be declared not to be an apostate, or that the death sentence will otherwise be lifted
b. Yousef will remain firm in his faith and know the presence and peace of Jesus each day
c. His wife, Fatemeh, and their two sons will know the comfort and hope of Jesus, and that the family will be reunited soon
d. Others detained for their faith, including Noorallah, Farshid, Leila and Behnam, will know the presence, peace and provision of Jesus, and be released soon
e. The five summoned to prison in Shiraz will know the Spirit’s wisdom and guidance at this time
f. Vahid and Reza will know the Lord’s presence, healing, and restoration following their release from prison
g. Christians throughout Iran will not be intimidated but will know the Lord’s enabling and guidance
h. All officials involved will love mercy, act justly, learn about Jesus and choose to follow Him
Clearly, Yousef is still in danger of martyrdom for his faith. Please continue in prayer for him and the others mentioned in the MEC note, as well as all Christians living in such intolerant places.
B21 wants to make you aware of the Go Network for church planting in Mississippi, focusing primarily on the central and southern parts of the state.
“Go Network is a group of churches committed to developing church planters that will reach people far from God with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We are looking for planters who are in this for the long term and who want to plant externally focused churches in Mississippi. Planters who participate in Go’s development process will be asked to engage in very intense ministry experiences that will cause them to examine their lives and grow through the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Led by church planters Eric Smith and Philip Thurman, Go Network is sure to serve Mississippi well with Gospel-centered, disciple-making churches.
For more info, visit http://www.goplantchurches.com/
B21’s Nathan Akin will lead a webinar for the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina on the topic, “Raising Up Future Elders and Church Planters: How to be Intentional about 2 Timothy 2:2.” Nathan will take a look at how local churches should be intentional about multiplying leaders and will draw on the internship he went through at Open Door Baptist Church.
From the State Convention Registration Website: Nathan Akin will take a look at the Biblical call for pastors to raise up men who will be future leaders in their church and in churches that they will plant. We will specifically look at being intentional about training these men. Nathan will reflect upon the training that he went through as a good model to establish in other churches. Every church should be seeking to multiply its leaders and therefore seeking to multiply itself through planting, but this has to be intentional or it will never happen.
When: Thursday March 31 @ 11am – 12pm
Baptist21 is excited to announce that we will once again host a panel at this year’s Southern Baptist Convention to be held in Phoenix, AZ.
Topic: A discussion on issues in the SBC, particularly “Mission”
When: During the Tuesday Lunch break of the SBC (June 14th)
There are still many details to be determined, such as: location, cost, etc… stay tuned for more information in the days ahead
Bryan Barley is a contributor to Baptist21 and the lead pastor of The Summit Church Denver, a new church plant in urban Denver, CO. He and his wife, Megan, have lived in the city now for two months.
Almost two months ago my wife and I, along with several other individuals from the Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, NC, were commissioned to plant a church in urban Denver, CO. And while two months on the ground makes me anything but an expert, one of the invaluable lessons I’ve learned is that being planted out of a healthy, supportive local church is indispensible in the planting process.
At the heart of the Summit’s vision for church planting is the conviction that planting happens best through the local church – it’s in the local church that the best assessment, training, and support can happen. With this conviction, and a vision to plant 1,000 churches in the next 40 years, they launched SendRDU to mobilize and equip people to plant churches in cities around the world.
SendRDU facilitates both international and North American church planting, and offers training ranging from the informal to a full-time, 9 month residency to prepare lead planters for church planting.
I was fortunate to go through the entirety of the SendRDU process. It began with mentorship and assessment where pastors looked into my life and evaluated everything from my ability to lead to my ability to love my wife. It culminated with coming on staff at the Summit as an intern and then a church planting resident, providing the opportunity to be trained in everything from preaching to leading an elders meeting.
Now on the ground in Denver and fully immersed in the church planting journey, I think almost daily how frightening it would have been to plant apart from this training. My time at the Summit not only confirmed and refined our calling, it gave us the confidence and support of a local church to move forward in the face of discouragement, and provided the practical training and skills we needed to know where we’re headed.
For my brothers reading this who are considering the call to church planting, I offer you some of the best advice I received in our church planting journey: the best way to prepare to plant is to serve in a local church with a vision for planting churches. While it’s certainly possible to take other routes to planting, my time at the Summit was priceless in mobilizing, equipping, and now planting us to start a new church in the city.
For more information about SendRDU, go to www.SendRDU.com.
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