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Islamic Republic of Iran
Sept. 23, 2013
Dear President Rouhani,
I have been watching with great concern about the case of Pastor Saeed Abedini, an American citizen who is currently a prisoner in your country. He was in Iran working to build an orphanage when he was arrested and later sentenced to eight years in prison. His situation has been receiving an increasingly high level of attention in the United States. Unfortunately this publicity has been entirely negative for Iran, with the belief that the primary reason for Pastor Abedini’s imprisonment was because of his Christian faith.
As you may know, as a religious leader I have often spoken (both publically and also privately with our national leadership) about the need for greater understanding and peace among the nations of the world. As you come to the United States this week for the U.N. General Assembly in New York, it is my sincere hope that ways may be found to reduce the current tensions between the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran.
The announcement on Monday that your country has freed 80 political prisoners is very encouraging. I fear, however, that the current publicity surrounding the continued imprisonment of Pastor Abedini, an American citizen, may further harm the already fragile relationship that presently exists between our two nations.
On September 26, the one-year anniversary of Pastor Abedini’s imprisonment, thousands will attend prayer vigils in more than 70 U.S. cities, calling on your country to release this husband, father and servant of God. I join them by respectfully asking you to release Pastor Saeed Abedini from prison. Such an action would, I believe, have a positive impact in our nation, and might well be perceived by our leadership as a significant step in reducing tensions.
Click here to see the original letter.
Many of you have asked my opinion on the new “moderate” Iranian president and have also asked updates about Saeed. Here is my take on it and ways to pray:
1- The election of the new president who seems to be moderate was planned by the supreme leader and is a tactic by the Iranian government to hold on to their power. If they would have allowed for a radical to win, there would have been riots and uproars and danger of them losing their power and their government.
This new president who is very loyal to the Supreme Leader, and is presenting himself as moderate has been able to bring hope and unity within the Iranian people and remove any danger of the Iranian regime losing its reign.
2- The new president is very loyal to the supreme leader and his background does not show any signs of moderacy. The Supreme Leader (Ayatollah Khamenei) is still in control and they will not back down on certain issues such as nuclear power. I also believe that they have set their strategy regarding Christianity in Iran and continue to see it as a threat and will continue to be strict about it. I hope I am wrong and that many families (including mine) will see their loved ones returned to them.
3- My prayer is that the people of Iran will not once again put their hope in a president to fix everything. He is only one man. But that the people of Iran would discover Jesus Christ who can truly bring the peace and joy that they are looking for through forgiveness of sin and reconciliation with God. I hope that as history has shown, that this new found freedom and hope doesn’t turn the Iranian people away from their thirst for the Gospel and relationship with God.
4- Saeed’s father visited Saeed today and he was doing good. His bleeding seems to have stopped, but he continues to have some medical issues that need to be tended to (he has some pain). The prison authorities are not happy about the conversions in prison and are threatening to move Saeed to another city/prison and are doing what they can to prevent him from sharing Christ in prison. This is most likely empty threats. But please continue to keep Saeed in your prayers.
My final prayer request is that we would pray that whatever the situation in Iran, that the people of Iran would continue to find Christ as their savior. That our Lord Jesus Christ would be glorified through whatever way (and whenever) Saeed is released. And that the Lord would continue to open doors inside Evin prison and outside in the world for the Gospel to be preached.
Thank you. Love you all!