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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
INTERNATIONAL CAMPAIGN – CHRISTMAS CARDS FOR SAEED
Over 600 Christmas cards are being sent to the notorious Rajaei-Shahr Prison in Iran for American Pastor Saeed Abedini. He has been tortured and wrongfully imprisoned by the Iranian government for his Christian faith. His wife and young children are grieving in his absence. His life is now at great risk! Please join the Christmas mission to encourage and to let Saeed and Iran know HE IS NOT FORGOTTEN!
Dec. 2015 UPDATE:
Share a Christmas message with Saeed here
Watch It Live! Joint Subcommittee Hearing: Iran’s Persecution of American Pastor Abedini Worsens #savesaeed
Today at 9:30am ET, you can watch Naghmeh Abedini testify before a House Foreign Affairs Joint-Subcommittee chaired by Congressman Chris Smith and Congressman Ros-Lehtinen (FL) on the latest efforts to #SaveSaeed. Watch it live!
PLEASE SHARE this INTERNATIONAL Campaign Mission to remember our persecuted brother, Pastor Saeed Abedini. Your participation and help is crucial for making this mission a success! We will let Saeed and Iran know that he will NOT BE FORGOTTEN!
VOICE OF THE PERSECUTED has organized an International Christmas Campaign Mission, along with his wife, Nagmeh Abedini to REMEMBER SAEED ON CHRISTMAS.
Dec. 2015 UPDATE:
Share a Christmas message with Saeed here
Saeed is number 9 on things that are trending on Yahoo! Let’s keep tweeting and sharing about Saeed!
American Pastor Saeed Abedini was moved from Evin Prison in Tehran to Rajai Shahr Prison in Karaj – an even more dangerous prison where he faces life-threatening conditions and treatment. Many are sent there to disappear, or even be killed!
Join the cause let’s keep pressing on until Saeed is back home with his wife and kids where he belongs. Constant prayer but also constant actions. He is our brother in Christ and when your family is in danger you keep pressing on for their safety. #SaveSaeed
Sign the NEW petition to urge President Obama to take immediate and decisive diplomatic action for his freedom. Time is of the essence!
There’s been a very troubling development in the case of American Pastor Saeed Abedini, a U.S. citizen imprisoned in Iran because of his Christian faith.
The ACLJ has confirmed through Pastor Saeed’s family members in Iran that he has been moved from Evin Prison in Tehran to Rajai Shahr Prison in Karaj – an even more dangerous prison where he faces life-threatening conditions and treatment.
A member of Pastor Saeed’s family in Iran arrived at Evin Prison today for the regular weekly visit and was told that Pastor Saeed had been moved to this this prison outside of Tehran yesterday – about an hour and a half drive away. The family member travelled to Rajai Shahr Prison and was told that Pastor Saeed is imprisoned there and is not permitted to have any visitors.
The unexplained and abrupt transfer comes as turmoil intensifies inside Iran where anti-American sentiment was on full display today as hardline opponents of Iran’s President Rouhani’s historic outreach to the United States took to the streets to mark the anniversary of the takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Iran in 1979.
In today’s protests, crowds chanted “death to America” – direct opposition to President Rouhani’s promise of moderation.
The ACLJ has confirmed that Pastor Saeed is now in one of the most dangerous wards of Rajai Shahr Prison – where violent prisoners are held – those who are imprisoned for murder and rape.
In 2005, Loes Bijnen, a Dutch Diplomat from the embassy in Tehran, described Rajai Shahr prison:
“Rajai Shahr is the place where political prisoners who are seen as a nuisance, are stowed away. Going to Karaj is a severe punishment. Once in there one stops to be a human being. One is put out of sight, even of human rights activists and the press. In Rajaï Shahr, political prisoners have to share cells with dangerous criminals like murderers, rapists and drug addicts who don’t hesitate to attack their cell mates. They have nothing to lose: many of them are condemned to death anyway. Murders or unexplained deaths are a regular occurrence.”
The transfer to this prison is a deeply disturbing development and can only be viewed as a move that puts Pastor Saeed’s life directly at risk.
President Obama called Iranian President Rhouani in September – urging him to release Pastor Saeed.
This new and extremely dangerous development requires the full attention and focus of President Obama. He must speak out now – directly and forcefully – to save Pastor Saeed’s life. Pastor Saeed’s life is in grave danger.
There’s wide bi-partisan support for a critical resolution in the Senate calling for Pastor Saeed’s release. And we continue to work to ensure passage of that measure.
But it is critical that President Obama take immediate diplomatic action to save the life of this U.S. citizen.
Send a message to President Obama today. Sign on to our Petition to Immediately Intervene to Save Saeed.
Time is of the essence!
Saeed’s wife, Naghmeh’s new message:
Today Marks day 1 of prayer and fasting. When I asked for prayer and fasting On November 4,5, and 6, I did not anticipate the trials that were coming our way. The Lord had put on my heart that there …is a battle in the spiritual realms and for the body of Christ to come together with prayer and fasting.
This is a spiritual battle.
Saeed’s life is in danger. He was taken from Evin prison to another prison yesterday. This prison is worse than Even. This is where people on death row go (murderers and rapist). Two people have been killed in the last 24 hours in front of Saeed because of the violence in that prison. Saeed’s father is not allowed to see him as of now.
People are in the streets chanting death to America in the last few days.
Saeed is in the hands of the radicals and he needs your prayers more than ever.
Today, let’s focus on prayer for Saeed’s safety and that the Lord would use Saeed to reach those murderers and rapist. After much weeping and prayer, I knew the Lord had new people for Saeed to share Jesus with.
Please join me in prayer and fasting.
Voice of the Persecuted is in agreement about the spiritual battle taking place against us, the Body of Christ! We are made stronger through HIM that overcomes!
As we began this 1st day of interceding and fasting on behalf of Saeed, there’s is news of great encouragement. Yesterday, one of the pastors that was imprisoned in Evin with him, Mostafa Bordbar sentenced for 10 years was released! Falling on the same day as the IDOP for the persecuted!
Our prayers are POWERFUL! We will not let the Darkness of this world put fear into us! We will rise above it and trust our Lord for the great miracle of Saeed’s release! It is on my heart that this transfer is not an interruption, but a Divine Intervention that will bring glory to our Lord!
The Armor of God
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.
Please join us in this important fight to SAVE SAEED!
SIGN THE PETITON NOW. Stand up and be Saeed’s VOICE!
The Iranian family members of American Pastor Saeed Abedini were able to once again visit him in Evin prison yesterday.
Pastor Saeed’s health appeared to be improved. The 33-year-old U.S. citizen is serving an eight-year sentence for his Christian faith in Iran, where he has been the victim of intense beatings that had resulted in internal bleeding.
In recent weeks, hopes had been high that Iran was preparing to do the right thing and release Pastor Saeed and other prisoners of conscious as part of a good faith showing under newly elected president Hassan Rouhani.
Several weeks ago, Iran released twelve prisoners from Evin Prison. That was followed up with an official announcement that 80 more prisoners of conscience would be released. Then last week, Iranian media reported that another 1241 prisoners could be released in conjunction with a religious holiday this past Thursday.
Yet, thus far, Iran has released only a small handful of those promised freedom, most of whom had completed or nearly completed their prison terms. Pastor Saeed expressed to his family how such lack of follow-through had greatly diminished morale for he and others inside Evin prison.
Iran has a clear opportunity to live up to its word and stake out a bold new position upholding fundamental freedoms and human rights for all Iranians. As for Pastor Saeed’s case, after President Obama raised the case with President Rouhani, Iran can no longer deny knowledge of holding him solely for his faith. Now a month since this historic call, it is time for Iran to respond. To show the world, and importantly the West that it can be trusted – that its human rights abuses are a thing of the past – Iran should release Pastor Saeed immediately.
Pastor Saeed and other prisoners of conscience stand as a living test of the Iranian regime’s promises. To be trusted they must hold true to their word. The time to act is now, not later.
The ball is in Iran’s court. The world is watching, intently waiting for real evidence of change.
Iran, will you release Pastor Saeed back to his loving family?