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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;
- For Saeed’s immediate release.
- For the Abedini support, for one another that we may never tire on waiting for the Lord to be glorified.
- For Saeed’s Health; for medicines to be received.
- For the pain to cease from his injuries.
- For Saeed to receive treatment for his injuries.
- For Saeed’s peace of mind, for his mental regulation and his wellbeing.
- For Saeed’s safety in prison, that cellmates will not danger him.
- For prison guards, wisdom and discernment as they oversee Saeed’s ward.
- Pray for cellmates and guards to come to know Christ through Saeed’s testimony. For spiritual support.
- For Naghmeh’s faith in Christ to grow, to remain strong and humble in spirit.
- For Naghmeh to know when to rest. Her peace of mind, and emotional regulation.
- For Saeed’s children, Rebekkah & Jacob that they will enjoy life and know their dad is safe in Christ.
- For Saeed’s imprisonment will point to Christ and souls saved around the world, changed hearts.
- For the Iranian country that many will come to know Christ and their world view will change to Christ.
- For the unity of Christians, for revival to occur, for our voice to be stronger in Christ for souls to be saved.
- For President Obama’s voice to be louder and stronger for the release of Saeed.
- For Secretary of State John Kerry that he will begin to consistently ask for the release of Saeed.
- For the Iranian Supreme Leader’s heart and mind to be changed and clemency to be given.
- For the preparation of Saeed’s release when that time arrives that events are in order.
- 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
Many members of Congress understand the importance of standing up for an American citizen who is illegally imprisoned in Iran simply because of his Christian faith.
We’re grateful to those in Congress who are working to bring the issue of Pastor Saeed Abedini to the forefront – and their commitment to doing all they can to raise this critical violation of religious freedom and human rights.
Pastor Saeed is serving a lengthy sentence in a brutal Iranian prison because of his Christian faith. In fact, September 26th will mark the one year anniversary of his captivity.
Just a few weeks ago, an Iranian appeals court rejected Pastor Saeed’s appeal, refusing to reduce his eight-year prison sentence.
Among those standing in support of Pastor Saeed – Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ), co-chairman of the International Religious Freedom Caucus.
He issued a strong statement on Pastor Saeed’s behalf following the Iranian court’s decision to turn down the appeal.
“Iran has once again demonstrated an utter disregard for fundamental human rights by continuing to insist that Pastor Saeed Abedini, an American citizen, be unjustly imprisoned in Iran. I will continue to exhaust every available avenue to continue to advocate for Pastor Abedini’s immediate and unconditional release.”
And then Rep. Franks took to the House floor to highlight Pastor Saeed’s case and read into the record the reaction of disappointment and concern from Pastor Saeed’s wife, Naghmeh – her own statement – reacting to the decision by the Iranians to reject her husband’s appeal.
At the same time, Rep. Franks expressed his outrage about the fact that President Obama has ignored the case, not even commenting on the plight of this U.S. citizen.
“I am heartbroken for the Abedini family and enraged at the lackadaisical attitude and silence of President Obama,” Rep. Franks said. You can watch his entire remarks here.
At the American Center for Law and Justice, we are intensifying our efforts to call attention to Pastor Saeed’s plight and accelerate our work in this country and abroad to secure his freedom.
In addition to Congressional support, we have heard from nearly 650,000 people around the world who already have expressed their concern and support for Pastor Saeed at SaveSaeed.org. We will be announcing shortly a new initiative to generate even more support and attention for Pastor Saeed.
Should A Christian Student Group Be Forced To Allow An Atheist To Lead It? One University Thinks So.
Should a Christian student group be forced to allow an atheist to lead it? One university thinks so.
Share & Sign the petition to demand this university reverse its discriminatory policy.
Christian student groups are being forced off campus by a major college. Vanderbilt University has instated a policy that requires religious student groups to accept leaders regardless of their faith, even requiring Christian groups to allow atheist leadership. The school has outrageously compared these Christian groups to segregationists.
The ACLJ is advising Christian student groups, concerned alumni, and parents; we need your voice in support of their religious liberty. Join the ACLJ in calling on Vanderbilt to reverse this discriminatory policy today.
Petition for Students’ Religious Rights
To: Vanderbilt University
You have compared Christian student groups to segregationists because they want the same rights as other Christian organizations in America — the same rights the Supreme Court unanimously affirmed this year — the right to use faith-based criteria when selecting leaders. We demand that you immediately reverse your new policy that discriminates against these students.
The ACLJ along with Naghmeh Abedini will be addressing the United Nations on Pastor Saeed’s Case to U.N. for 2nd Time.
The ACLJ and Saeed’s wife asks:
We want to bring 600,000 signatures to the U.N. when we present Pastor Saeed’s case for the second time.
Help us meet this goal. Share & Sign the petition at savesaeed.org
Brothers and Sisters,
Please partner with us in helping them to reach that goal. Almost there! Thank you in advance.
We are continuing daily to pray for the miracle of Saeed’s release!
In Solidarity, VOP
A Special Report by ICC 5/4/2013 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – After more than 200 days in Iran’s Evin Prison, known for its brutal treatment of prisoners, letters from American-Iranian Pastor Saeed Abedini reveal that he is clinging to joy in the midst of intense persecution. Since his imprisonment in Evin Prison, where he is serving an 8 year prison sentence for being a threat to national security. He continues to be denied medical treatment for intermal bleeding, due to injuries sustained from repeated beatings and physical torture. But it doesn’t stop there, he is also under intense psychological pressure and torture. READ MORE
His children cry out for him. His wife wonders about his “survival battle.”
Such is the struggle of the family of an American pastor recently sentenced in Iran to eight years in prison for his Christian beliefs.
The couple’s two children “miss him terribly. They cry, they ask for him,” wife Naghmeh Abedini says. “They’re struggling every day.” Her husband Saeed Abedini, a U.S. citizen of Iranian birth, was arrested and charged in Iran last June during a visit. Abedini, 32, converted to Christianity from Islam and then became a pastor, living in Boise, Idaho. He has reportedly been detained in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison since late September. In the Islamic Republic of Iran, a Muslim who converts to another faith can face the death penalty.
“They’ve charged him with Christian gatherings, and they’re saying it is a threat to the national security,” Naghmeh Abedini said.
Her husband had visited Iran 10 times since 2009, and was working on a a government-approved orphanage when he was arrested last year, Abedini said. His parents also live in Iran.
“It was quite a bit of a surprise for us that they did arrest him, but they’ve been cracking down on Christianity more with the revolutionary guard getting involved in the last few months,” Naghmeh Abedini said in an interview aired Thursday.
It has been more than nine months since she last saw her husband. He has been imprisoned for more than 180 days.
“The last time I was allowed by the government to speak to him was January 9th, it was only a few minutes,” Abedini said. “He was mainly talking to the kids and telling them how much he loved them.”
From prison, Saeed has written letters to his wife. One of them read:
“Maybe you ask what is the secret of being so happy in such a hard situation? Forgiveness and a change of attitude. When we forgive, we become free and we become messengers of peace and reconciliation and goodness.”
He also wrote of not receiving medical treatment for internal bleeding that he suffered from beatings. Abedini says she is worried he will not survive his prison sentence.
“Every day is a survival battle, and that’s why we’ve been fighting to get him out as soon as possible,” she says. “He’s already been there long enough.”
The American Center for Law and Justice is representing the Abedinis. The group’s executive director Jordan Sekulow says they reached a major milestone in trying to free Saeed Abedini when Secretary of State John Kerry issued a statement directly calling for Saeed’s release last week. The ambassador to the U.N. Human Rights Council for the United States also called for his release.
These are “the first two really high-level officials … to put these statements on the record, which was really important for the world to know, and for Iran,” says Sekulow.
Naghmeh Abedini testified before a Congressional committee examining religious persecution on March 15.
“Since that hearing, I’ve noticed more action. They’ve promise to do more, even though I’m still not sure exactly what’s being done with the diplomatic efforts,” Abedini says, adding that it was great news for Kerry to come out with such a strong statement. Still, she is hoping even more can be done.
“I’m hoping every action is being taken to get Saeed out of that prison before he loses his life there,” she said.
In January, Saeed Abedini was sentenced by a member of the Islamic Republic’s Revolutionary Court, according to the American Center for Law and Justice, an organization founded by television evangelist Pat Robertson.
Kerry criticized Iran’s actions.
“I am disturbed by reports that Mr. Abedini has suffered physical and psychological abuse in prison, and that his condition has become increasingly dire,” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement. “Such mistreatment violates international norms as well as Iran’s own laws.”
Kerry said he was also “troubled by the lack of due process in Mr. Abedini’s case and Iran’s continued refusal to allow consular access by Swiss authorities, the U.S. protecting power in Iran.
“The best outcome for Mr. Abedini is that he be immediately released,” Kerry added.
In January, U.S. State Department spokesman Darby Holladay added that Iran violated “the universal right of freedom of religion.” At trial, the pastor appeared with his attorney in a Revolutionary Guard Court to address charges of attempting to undermine the Iranian government, but his attorney apparently was shut out of some proceedings.
The group contends that charges stem from Abedini’s conversion to Christianity from Islam 13 years ago and his activities with home churches in Iran.
The judge in the case has faced sanctions by the European Union “because of his harsh sentences for those on trial for exercising a fundamental human right,” the center said.
Naghmeh Abedini has previously said that a few laymen with the Christian church in Iran told her husband’s attorney that they had been called to testify in the case.
In January, the Iranian state-run news agency ISNA reported that the pastor would soon be released on bail – which Naghmeh Abedini said at the time was “clearly a lie.”
His wife has said he felt that it was safe to go back repeatedly because he had had no dealings with the authorities since he promised to stop working with Christian home services.
Once he even went with his wife and two children. His wife is also a convert to Christianity from Islam, and they received threats during the most recent family visit, so she took the children home. He returned to their home in Idaho later. Last summer, the pastor was on a bus that was crossing from Turkey into Iran. Immigration officials took away his passport and he was later put under house arrest. Source
New Update- Saeed’s Orphanage, Video:Naghmeh Abedini with children, Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani is Alive
Watch: special report on Pastor Saeed featuring in person interviews with his wife Naghmeh and footage of Saeed’s 6 year old daughter and 4 year old son.
Saeed’s Orphanage in Iran, the Hidden Casualty of his Wrongful Imprisonment
Not only is an American family without their husband and father, Iranian orphans are also being negatively impacted by the unlawful imprisonment of Pastor Saeed Abedini. Pastor Saeed was arrested on one of his many trips in recent years to Iran where he was working to establish an orphanage (pictured above) to help children in need. Now, because Saeed is wrongfully imprisoned, this orphanage can’t open. The dozen children this orphanage was intended to house and care for are left without a home.
The sad irony is that Saeed actually had the permission of the Iranian government to establish this orphanage in Iran. He had been working directly with the Iranians ensure that his worked complied with Iranian law and was authorized. The purpose of this particular trip was to gain approval for the last board member for the orphanage. Many children in Iran, as in all parts of the world, experience the devastation of being left without family to care for them. Pastor Saeed’s passion was to ensure that children in his native country had the care they desperately need. That has now been put in jeopardy by Saeed’s wrongful conviction and imprisonment. These children deserve better. Saeed deserves better.
CLARIFICATION OF FALSE RUMORS THAT ARE BEING SPREAD!
There has been some confusion between Pastor Nadarkhani (an Iranian citizen living in Iran) who has been released from prison and American Pastor Saeed Abedini who is still in the brutal Evin prison. Please be sure to share about Pastor Saeed and the difference between the two! Also, there have been reports of Pastor Nadarkhni’s death, which some have thought was Saeed. These reports are NOT true. Pastor Nadarkhani is still alive!
IRAN | Pastor Nadarkhani Still Alive
March 8.2013 Christian Solidarity Worldwide is refuting claims that Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani has been executed in Iran. Reports alleging that Pastor Nadarkhani had been hanged, initially surfaced last week and resurfaced on March 8. Pictures purporting to show a man being hanged are being attributed as evidence of the pastor’s death. The man in these pictures is not Pastor Nadarkhani, and CSW’s sources have confirmed he is still alive.
On Sept. 8, 2012, a court in Rasht acquitted Pastor Nadarkhani of apostasy but sentenced him to three years for evangelizing Muslims. Since he had already spent close to three years in Lakan Prison, the pastor was released after posting bail. He was returned to prison on Dec. 25, 2012 on the orders of prison authorities and released again on Jan. 7, 2013.
CSW’s Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said, “While we are relieved to report that Pastor Nadarkhani is alive, we urge caution in circulating rumors which must be deeply distressing for his family, his congregation and for many around the world who continue to pray for him. Given their possible ramifications, it is vital that reports of such a serious nature are stringently verified before dissemination.” Source