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I Was Moved to the Core – Inspired by faith of the Abdini’s

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Glenn Hawkins – Virginia, USA

I first heard about Pastor Saeed when I heard Nagmeh’s powerful testimony when she spoke at a convocation at Liberty University.  I was moved to the core.  Since then I’ve been praying for all of you, and have strongly encouraged my congregation to pray for not just you, but for all of our brothers and sisters in countries that are hostile to the gospel.

Pastor Saeed, I pray that the Lord may continue to loosen your tongue to give your testimony and the gospel to your captors, and fellow prisoners.  Naghmeh, I can’t imagine what you are going through, and your desire to see the Lord glorified, even if it means you and your dear husband are separated, is one of great challenge to me personally.  Thank you for your faithfulness to our Lord, the One who “for the joy that was set before Him, endured”.

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Thank you Glenn, for following the call to be prayerful. The Holy Spirit’s guidance for you and your congregation to pray for our dear brothers and sisters in Christ, persecuted for loving Jesus.

Blessings to you!

Luanne Stradley, VOP Project Team

Tell Pastor Saeed that we understand, and we will pick up the cross and follow Christ as he has.

Join in this project to let the Abedini’s know how they have inspired or renewed your faith. Each testimony will be a source of encouragement to them and the Body of Christ. When the family is reunited, we will gather the stories to be published in a book and presented to them as an appreciation for their steadfast faith. Together, we will be able to provide a little insight into how God has worked through them to be a blessing to more than they realize.  Add your testimony below. If your church has been active in praying for this persecuted family, inform them of this special mission so they too can share their thoughts and be an encouragement.

Be encouraged, view submitted testimonies HERE 

 inspired by faith

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Fighting the good fight – Inspired by the faith of the Abedini’s

fighting the good fight-VOP

Lisa, USA

I have had the pleasure of becoming Facebook friends with Naghmeh. She has shared this journey with millions of Christians and others who are not. Her and her husbands journey has moved me and inspired me to stand up for my faith in Jesus Christ, King of all Creation with more boldness and courage. How God is using her family to be glorified is incredible and such a blessing. And, how many are knowing our God for the first time through this family is truly amazing!  One day, I pray God will bring Pastor Saeed home to America. It will be such a blessing to meet him on American soil, that day—I pray.

Thank you for starting these testimonies.

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We thank you, sister for sharing how this persecuted family has inspired your own faith.  God is strengthening the Body of Christ, even in and through persecution. Our God is with us, may HE be glorified. We will be praying with you, Lisa!

Blessings,

VOP Prayer Team

Tell Pastor Saeed that we understand, and we will pick up the cross and follow Christ as he has.

Join in this project to let the Abedini’s know how they have inspired or renewed your faith. Each testimony will be a source of encouragement to them and the Body of Christ. When the family is reunited, we will gather the stories to be published in a book and presented to them as an appreciation for their steadfast faith. Together, we will be able to provide a little insight into how God has worked through them to be a blessing to more than they realize.  Add your testimony below. If your church has been active in praying for this persecuted family, inform them of this special mission so they too can share their thoughts and be an encouragement.

Be encouraged, view submitted testimonies HERE 

 inspired by faith

abedini-1

Escape from Iran: Mother of imprisoned pastor flees after repeated threats

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The mother of Saeed Abedini, the American citizen imprisoned in Iran for his faith, has fled the Islamic republic and is making her way to the U.S. to await his return with his wife and two sons.

Friends of Abedini on Friday helped spirit the anguished mom and two of her other children out of the repressive nation, where she faced daily threats and intimidation for championing her son’s case, according to Naghmeh Abedini, wife of Saeed, who has spent more than two years in an Iranian prison after being accused of proselytizing in his homeland. She is now safe in another country and awaiting passage to the U.S., said family members, who did not want to release her name until she was on U.S. soil.

“Facing threats in Iran, Saeed’s mom is now safely out of the country,” Naghmeh Abedini told FoxNews.com. “We look forward to seeing her soon here in the United States. It has been a difficult time for all of us — including Saeed’s mom.” READ MORE

Pray ON! Call to Prayer for the Persecuted Church

 

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(VOP) I was introduced to Naghmeh Abedini, on a cold December 2012 morning, while getting ready, I turned the television on to find a woman speaking of her husband who was imprisoned in Iran, for nothing more than being a Christian.  I stopped everything and watched more.  Naghmeh, whom I learned was his wife, shared that Saeed was in Iran to start an orphanage and how the Iranian Guards forcibly took him. It wasn’t until I learned of Rebekka and Jacob, his two children that I thought, there must be something I can do?

As a father of three young children, in similar ages, my heart hurt for Saeed.  Naghmeh shared of the upcoming January 27, 2013 sentencing and how confident she was that he’d be home.  I ran into the living room to find my wife preparing my girls for school, i.e., brushing hair, etc.  I told her of the story I heard and said I was going to start a prayer facebook page to encourage others to pray for Saeed.  The facebook group page “Praying for American Pastor Saeed Abedini” was born.

After inviting all my friends and my wives friends to this page, it began to attract others. It wasn’t until I noticed Naghmeh’s name requesting to be a member when I thought I have a responsibility to encourage this woman and trust others will with this group page.  As I encouraged her, I was being encouraged, I noticed more people submitting encouraging prayers, verses, and thoughts.  Through this facebook group, we assisted in yellow page letters campaigns to the Secretary of State office, we’ve shown support by having yellow within your profile picture. The most memorable was the “Endure for Saeed” 5K that Boise, Idaho hosted.  My wife Amy stated something about it in May 2013, we both said “we should do that?’ 5 months later, in October 2013, we hosted one here in Fort Dodge, Iowa, where Naghmeh came and spoke.

Endure for Saeed 5K was held October 19th at Northfield Church of Christ, Fort Dodge. 160 people endured the 40 degree weather, the drizzle, and the 15 mph winds for Imprisoned American Pastor Saeed Abedini.  Naghmeh Abedini, wife of Saeed, was there to share his story: on September 26, 2012, Saeed, an Iranian born American citizen, was jailed in Iran and thrown into one of the worst prisons in the world – Evin Prison – simply because of his Christian faith.  Saeed has been beaten, tortured, and put under great psychological and emotional pressure. Pastor Saeed has stood strong in his faith in Jesus Christ and has become for many the face of the persecuted church around the world and a symbol for religious freedom and human rights.  This message was presented by a woman who has received peace from God. 160 people from Fort Dodge and surrounding communities and as far as Davenport and Bettendorf, Iowa and Overland Park, Kansas came to support, love, and encourage Naghmeh.

It was an exciting time to meet and hear the woman I have been praying for. My whole family prays for Saeed, and we still do. We circle up in the morning to “pray in” and always close with Saeed’s immediate release and safety.  It was this visit from Naghmeh to see and hear her passion and love for the persecuted church, it was an awakening for me.  They were brothers and sisters in Christ who for their faith had to find refuge in other lands.  So I prayed steadily for Saeed and the persecuted church.

I admire Naghmeh, I respect her, and love that she is Saeed’s voice.  I truly believe God is using her as the face to the religious freedom in the United States.  I enjoy what Dr. Charles Stanley has said,

God isn’t looking for impressive people; He wants willing ones who will bow the knee in humble submission.   Being weak and ordinary doesn’t make you useless. Rather, it positions you for a demonstration of divine power in your life. He takes insignificant ones and delights in making them great.

If you’d ask Naghmeh, she’d tell you that she was not “impressive” but meek, quiet, humble.  Not a fan of public speaking, enjoyed being supportive, but now God is using her.  He has allowed her to speak to 196 nations about Jesus Christ, while sharing Saeed’s story.  Therefore I add her to the praying points.  I am confident she’d probably not want the attention, as humble and grace filled as she is.  Even in the midst of concerns, there are many praises to God for the situation that Saeed and Naghmeh Abedini find themselves in.  Psalm 143:1 (ESV), reads “Hear my prayer, O Lord; give ear to my pleas for mercy! In your faithfulness answer me, in your righteousness.”  Although there has been many changes in Saeed’s situation, one thing I know that is constant, our prayers.  I’ve taken the privilege to extend seven prayer points that was prayed at vigils across 500 cities and 35 countries adding detail to them for guidance in praying for Saeed and the persecuted church. Please pray for the following;

  1. For Saeed’s immediate release.
  2. For the Abedini support, for one another that we may never tire on waiting for the Lord to be glorified.
  3. For Saeed’s Health; for medicines to be received.
  4. For the pain to cease from his injuries.
  5. For Saeed to receive treatment for his injuries.
  6. For Saeed’s peace of mind, for his mental regulation and his wellbeing.
  7. For Saeed’s safety in prison, that cellmates will not danger him.
  8. For prison guards, wisdom and discernment as they oversee Saeed’s ward.
  9. Pray for cellmates and guards to come to know Christ through Saeed’s testimony. For spiritual support.
  10. For Naghmeh’s faith in Christ to grow, to remain strong and humble in spirit.
  11. For Naghmeh to know when to rest. Her peace of mind, and emotional regulation.
  12. For Saeed’s children, Rebekkah & Jacob that they will enjoy life and know their dad is safe in Christ.
  13. For Saeed’s imprisonment will point to Christ and souls saved around the world, changed hearts.
  14. For the Iranian country that many will come to know Christ and their world view will change to Christ.
  15. For the unity of Christians, for revival to occur, for our voice to be stronger in Christ for souls to be saved.
  16. For President Obama’s voice to be louder and stronger for the release of Saeed.
  17. For Secretary of State John Kerry that he will begin to consistently ask for the release of Saeed.
  18. For the Iranian Supreme Leader’s heart and mind to be changed and clemency to be given.
  19. For the preparation of Saeed’s release when that time arrives that events are in order.
  20. For the persecuted church, around the world, that God will provide a hedge of protection around them as they worship and share Christ.

I am confident all of you have been praying (Col 4:2); as we continue, let us watch and as each prayer is answered let us praise God and rejoice. As detailed as the above requests are for Saeed, I encourage you to continue to pray for the persecuted church in this manner:

  1. That the Lord would give them Grace and strength to endure the abuse and persecution that they may be a shining light for Jesus wherever they are at.
  2. Families of persecuted Christians. That their children would grow strong in their faith in Jesus and not be resentful. That the Lord would give the spouses strength and patience to wait and to be light of Jesus to their communities and to the hurting world.
  3. Revival in our cities as we gather in unity to pray for the persecuted Christians. That the Lord would use this time to awaken the churches and the Body of Christ in our cities and in our countries.

These prayer requests provide a concrete foundation for prayer for Saeed and the persecuted church, as well as for us the church.  To find unity and revival in our hearts, who are we that we should pray earnestly for Saeed and Persecuted Church and not for revival in our hometown.  Encouraged by Naghmeh to share Saeed’s story to share Christ, as strange a concept, it can be done.  Some Christians may have an easier time sharing Saeed’s testimony then Christ’s gospel.  But as you tell Saeed’s story, peppered in it the love he has for God, and the joy he finds in being imprisoned, the gospel is shared.

I pray that as you pray that you will grow in your prayer life and know that in doing so, you will have a better opportunity to resist the devil (James 4:7). The benefit of prayer is drawing closer to God and as you draw close to Him, what does He do? He is drawing closer to you (James 4:8), your relationship with God is strengthening and your love for Him deepens.

Rom 12:12 (ESV), “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”

Phl 1:9 (ESV), “And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment,”

I leave you with this charge: continue to pray, for Saeed, the persecuted church, and for each other that through our experience of prayer our relationship with God grows, and we surrender to His will for our life, that His Kingdom in all that we do is glorified.  Pray on.

by Dr. Jim Seward

Voice of the Persecuted would like to welcome Dr. Seward to the team! His heart breaks for and is called to serve the persecuted Church. For this reason and for the commitment he has shown, we have asked Jim to press forward with us in the mission. He will being joining  VOP by sharing a monthly call to prayer helping us to remember and stay focused in our much needed prayers for our persecuted family. Please keep him in your prayers asking the Lord to lead him, as he embarks in this extremely important part of our mission, the power of prayer.

Lois Kanalos and the VOP team

Art Protest at UN for Iranian prisoners

ArtProtest-united-nations

Art Protest at the United Nations for Iranian prisoners

“It’s a vivid and commanding statement of those being unjustly silenced at a time when significant diplomatic focus is being placed on Iran and its renewed engagement with the world.”

On a snowy Tuesday morning the street artist and photographer JR’s Inside Out Project and Unlock Iran took part in a protest to put pressure on the United Nations to respond to human rights violations in Iran. The organisations joined to post portraits of 13 Iranian prisoners—two of whom were reportedly executed by the state last month—outside UN headquarters in New York. The protests were timed to coincide with the P5+1 negotiations over Iran’s nuclear programme. On 22 January, the UN called on Iran to halt executions after discovering that at least 40 hangings had already taken place since the start of the new year. READ MORE

Art Protest at the United Nations for Iranian

Art Protest at the United Nations for Iranian prisoners

Let Us Not Forget Our Brother’s Pastor Saeed Abedini & Kenneth Bae

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We’ve been reviewing commentaries about the recent Prayer Breakfast attended by the President. While we remain extremely grateful that President Obama acknowledged our brother’s, Pastor Saeed Abedini and Kenneth Bae, we wonder what current action the administration is taking to procure their release.

Pastor Saeed’s wife, and Kenneth Bae’s family were jubilant about the acknowledgement from the president and rightly so, but we remain cautiously optimistic. We believe God is working through both men to bring light into the darkness they are currently in. And pray for their families who are and have been inspirations to many Christians and non-believers alike. There also is evidence that Pastor Saeed has brought the Gospel to new believers in prison, when they may have never had an opportunity to hear the Word. God has a plan and is in control in the lives of these faithful men and their families.

kenneth-bae-detained-american-in-north-koreaMany were disheartened when President Obama didn’t officially mention Saeed or Kenneth in the last State of the Union Address. Reps. Rick Larsen (D-Wash.) and Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) had invited Bae’s mother, Myunghee Bae, and sister, Terri Chung, to hear the president speak in the House chamber, so they both were present. Secretary of State John F. Kerry even met with Bae’s family ahead of the speech.

Thousands were extremely disappointed that Pastor Saeed’s release wasn’t made as a pre-condition to the recent nuclear talks with the government of Iran. At Davos, politicians started the talks with handshakes and smiles, followed by deals with the Islamic nation. But Pastor Saeed sat in a dark prison, suffering with internal injuries caused by beatings for nothing more than his faith in Jesus Christ. Pressuring him to deny his Christian faith, the Iranian authorities have caused him to endure much physical and psychological torture. A prison doctor now says he will need to undergo surgery for the internal bleeding he has been suffering for the past year. The Islamic regime has used Saeed as a pawn to further oppress Christian converts and the people of Iran. These two Americans have been denied their human/religious rights. And we will never accept the despicable treatment inflicted on our fellow Americans and family members in Christ.

In an interview with Steve Malzberg, former Ambassador John Bolton made some interesting statements regarding the president’s comments at the Prayer Breakfast. Bolton said he believes President Barack Obama’s mention of American Pastor Saeed Abedini — serving eight years in prison in Iran on charges related to his Christian beliefs — at the prayer breakfast may have been made to placate his family.

“He’s probably trying … to get them off his back and to get the American public off his back for not raising the issue enough. I don’t think it’s going to succeed,” he said.

“It wasn’t an official statement; it was just in the prayer breakfast because he hopes that with a bunch of religious fanatics in Tehran he can kind of pass it off as his obligatory religious gesture in this country.

“I mean really, it is a demonstration that the president is determined to have a deal with Iran on the nuclear program almost no matter what the cost.”

From the beginning of Saeed’s wrongful detention, many have pleaded for the president to speak out on the behalf of the imprisoned American pastor in Iran. He has remained virtually silent. Voice of the Persecuted joined thousands worldwide in holding a Protest/Prayer Vigil for Pastor Saeed on September 26, 2013— the one year anniversary of his imprisonment. The next day, it was reported that a senior Obama Administration official confirmed that President Obama had called for the release of American Pastor Saeed Abedini in a phone conversation with the new Iranian President Rouhani.

Saeed-ObamaIt was stated that President Obama raised Pastor Saeed’s case along with two other Americans directly with the Iranian President. According to the report, President Obama raised concerns about the imprisonment of Saeed and expressed our country’s interest in seeing the American pastor returned to his family.

While Secretary of State Kerry had already called on Iran to release Pastor Saeed, the call with Rouhani was the first time that Obama had himself spoken out about the wrongfully imprisoned U.S. citizen. Between that call and the mention at the prayer breakfast, he has been silent.

As Bolton claimed, were his statements only an appeasement? Does this administration believe Saeed’s supporters will stop pressuring our government leaders to do more for his release? If so, they’ve underestimated the unity and love we have for one another. When one suffers, we all suffer and his wrongful imprisonment by the nation of Iran is completely unacceptable. And our stance on North Korea’s detainment of our brother, Kenneth Bae is the same. Both men must be released.

As Christians, we are banding together in prayer and support for these brothers and their families. We want to remain positive and encouraging, wrapping them in love and the power that comes with a blanket of prayer and the Name of Jesus.

We encourage everyone to not give up or get lax. We must step up the efforts and keep the emails, letters and petitions going to the President and our elected officials. Let him, our government and the world know that we as Christians and Americans, will not forget while one of us is left behind. Be their VOICE, too many are still unaware. Encourage others to join in the campaign to save their lives. Keep the fires going and keep the light shining, so all may find their way. And most importantly PRAY!

HOW TO GET INVOLVED! Note: CAMPAIGN HAS ENDED

(Links have been removed, campaigns have ended)

Share this mission, every VOICE counts!

SAEED ABEDINI

Sign the petition to help free Saeed

We encourage you to write a personal letter of encouragement to Pastor Saeed. You can personalize a card or letter by sending a family photo. Younger children may participate by sending a drawing, also encouraging him in this time of trial. Learn how HERE

KENNETH BAE

Sign the petition to bring Kenneth back home.

A letter-writing campaign for Kenneth was launched by the two American journalists, Laura Ling and Euna Lee, previously imprisoned in North Korea, because letters were what sustained them during their detainment.

Please send words of hope, strength, and news. Learn how HERE

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Pastor Saeed’s Wife To Prepares To Speak At Geneva Summit

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From Pastor Saeed’s wife, Nagmeh:
My Dear Friends and Family,

I would appreciate your prayers.

1- I have been invited as a keynote speaker for the sixth annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy. The Summit is organized by UN Watch and will take place in Geneva on Tuesday, February 25, 2014, before the main annual session of the UN Human Rights Council. (www.genevasummit.org).

This will give me a world wide platform to speak out about religious freedom issues and Christian persecution!

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Pastor Saeed’s son having surgery, his wife asks for prayer. #freesaeed

Pastor Saeed's son in the Hospital before surgery with his mother, Naghmeh Abedini

Pastor Saeed’s son in the Hospital before surgery with his mother, Naghmeh Abedini

From Pastor Saeed’s wife, Naghmeh:
I have been so busy with sick kids ever since I got back from DC. We would appreciate your prayers. Rebekka has been dealing with infections and has shown allergic reaction to every antibiotic we have tried. Please pray for Jacob. He has been sick also and is now going to surgery for his tonsils.

Thank you for your prayers!

Naghmeh Abedini

Pray for the trials this American family is facing in the absence of their loved one, Pastor Saeed Abedini wrongfully imprisoned in Iran. Pray for the quick recovery of his son. Pray the Lord will continue to give them strength and hope in the days ahead. Please continue to pray and speak out for Saeed’s release!

Sign the petition for his freedom at beheardproject.com HELP US #SaveSaeed!

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