Sources say the execution of a Christian pastor in Iran for "thought crimes" has been temporarily delayed.
Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani was convicted of apostasy, which carries the death sentence in Iran. Authorities had scheduled his execution for Oct. 24. Sources say Iranian authorities are delaying the execution in order to put more pressure on the pastor to turn away from Christ.
According to Iranian law, once the written verdict is delivered, there will be 20 days to appeal to the Islamic Republic's Supreme Court.
Iranian security officials have informed the courts to temporarily delay the pastor's execution until further notice, the Assist News Service reported.
Meanwhile, Nadarkhani is being kept in a security prison in Lakan, Iran, which is just south of his hometown of Rasht. His wife was also sentenced to life in prison.
Nadarkhani leads one of the largest Protestant communities in Iran and has been targeted for converting Muslims to Christ.
He was arrested last October after protesting against the decision of local authorities to enforce the reading of the Koran to Christian children.
Jason DeMars of the website presenttruthmn.com quoted an Iranian mullah, or cleric, who said: "The circles for promotion of Christianity, Baha'ism, Wahhabism, Sufism should be eliminated with the efforts of the Law Enforcement Force as per God's wish. The most significant psychological disease is created by these meetings and circles. They are corrupt and the biggest disrupters of the country's security."
DeMars reports that supporters of the pastor are continuing in prayer for Nadarkhani to have strength to endure this pressure and suffering and that he would soon be delivered from the hand of his enemies.
Christians and human rights activists are also petitioning the Iranian government for the couple's release.
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