By / Jun 30

As time passes, the news cycle ebbs and flows with the tide of public interest. Often, a major injustice has only five minutes of fame while people rally around its cause. But, it soon fades out of the public eye, though it remains just as severe an injustice as the day it was discovered.

For my husband Saeed Abedini, nearly three years have passed since he faced the initial injustice of an arrest on account of his faith in Jesus Christ. Unlike an ordinary news story that fades into a distant memory, I know that Saeed’s suffering is never far from the hearts and minds of his brothers and sisters in Christ around the world. For that, I am grateful.

My husband and the father of our two children left for Iran in June of 2012. He travelled back to Iran to finalize work on an orphanage we were building. But days before he returned to our family, Iranian revolutionary guards detained him and said he must face criminal charges because of his Christian faith. In January 2013, an Iranian court sentenced him to eight years imprisonment.  

He has now served just over two and a half years of his eight-year sentence but still clings to the knowledge that God is with him and that the church prays for him continually. God still answers our constant prayers by giving Saeed physical, mental and emotional strength, as well as peace despite his circumstances.   

Saeed was initially arrested because of his Christian faith, but as Iran began negotiations with the world regarding its nuclear development, he has become entangled in a greater political battle. Because of this, it is important that we continue to pray. We must pray for our leaders sitting at the negotiating table with Iran. We must also pray for the hearts of the Iranian authorities who continue to detain him.

For the last two anniversaries of Saeed’s imprisonment, Christians have gathered across the nation and around the world to unite in prayer for him. This year, on September 26, 2015, we will once again gather in churches, parks and in front of government buildings to ask God to protect and provide for Saeed while he is in prison and to bring about his speedy release.

Whether you are a community leader or have never led a meeting of any kind before, you are invited to host a prayer vigil in your town on September 26 to help facilitate unified prayers on Saeed’s behalf. For more information on how to host a prayer vigil in your town or to register a vigil location, please go to saeedvigil.com.

God has given Saeed and our family strength throughout his imprisonment, and he has made our prayers an important part of His work. As we pray, God comes to Saeed’s aid and also brings believers into a closer relationship with himself and each other. While it might be easy to let Saeed’s situation fade away like an old news story or disappear behind the pressing concerns of our day-to-day lives, don’t miss the opportunity to be part of what God is doing in Saeed and the church as a whole. Please continue persevere in prayer for Saeed, others who are persecuted for their faith, and religious freedom in countries around the world.

By / Sep 25

September 26, 2014, marks two years since my husband, Pastor Saeed Abedini, was imprisoned in Iran for his Christian faith. Despite horrific conditions, including violent beatings and a promise that they would free him if he denied Christ, Saeed has stood strong for his faith in Jesus Christ.    

Persecution isn’t archaic

For many people, the idea of someone being arrested because of what they believe is a foreign and archaic concept-–one that happens only in distant lands and in distant times. But for many Christians, imprisonment, torture and even death is a reality for believing in Jesus. It is something that Christ followers have been familiar with since the time that Jesus Christ walked on this earth.

Christ came to love the world and die for the sins of the world. His time on earth was spent healing the sick, defending the weak and loving the same people who crucified him. But as the Church in Acts grew, many of the first disciples were brutally killed for following him.

Although the first disciples walked the earth several centuries ago, persecution continues today. Christianity is the number one persecuted religion in the world, and yet true Christianity is based on love and forgiveness of sin through Jesus Christ, even for those who persecute us.

Saeed’s writings

Today, as I live with a deep pain of not having my husband by my side and seeing my children cry out for their dad, I am reminded of discussions Saeed and I would have about persecution. Though those conversations feel like a distant past, I realize now that God allowed them to prepare our family for the present.  

Recently, as I flipped through Saeed’s writings, I discover something Saeed had written that I had not paid attention to before.

As Christians we are called to suffer (1 Pet. 2:20-21, 1 Pet. 1:29, Acts 14:22):

"For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow his steps" (1 Pet. 2:20-21).

Persecution and suffering result in:

  1. Receiving the crown of glory (1 Pet. 5:1, 4)
  2. Sharing in his suffering  and having a deeper revelation of Christ and the cross (Phil. 3:10)
  3. The furtherance of the gospel (Phil. 1:12)
  4. Shaping our character to become more like Jesus (Rom. 5:3-5)
  5. Bringing prayer and unity to the Body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:26)
  6. Repentance and sanctification (Rev. 7:13-15)
  7. The spirit of glory and of God resting upon you (1 Pet. 4:14)

What does persecution look like in your culture? Are you willing to take actions that result in persecution and reap the above rewards? Use your freedom to free bounded places and bounded people even if it means you become bounded yourself.  

Remember the persecuted

The persecuted church is on the front lines of sharing the gospel. Those who are persecuted are targeted because they are standing for their faith in Jesus. The most important thing that the persecuted church needs from the body of Christ is to know that they are remembered (Heb. 13:3) in prayer and action and  that the body of Christ is standing with them. Our family has been blessed to see so many in the body of Christ standing with us.

Recently, I had the honor of meeting Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, when he honored my husband with the Richard Land Distinguish Service Award. I was overcome with emotion by the prayers and support of my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. I cannot express the strength our family receives in knowing that many are standing with us and we are not forgotten during this time of intense trial.

Stand with Saeed on September 26

In addition to your prayers, I ask you to use your resources to make your voice known to our government that religious freedom issues are important to you. You can write to your local government official to express your concern. I also ask you to consider joining me on September 26, 2014, as we hold prayer vigils across the United States and other countries in solidarity for Saeed and others who are imprisoned for their faith in Jesus (Heb. 13:3). For more information on times and locations for prayer vigils please go to beheardproject.com/saeed.

As Saeed would say, “Just as it is right for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart, in as much as both in my chains and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers with me of grace. For God is my witness, how greatly I long for you all with the affection of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:7-8).

God Bless you all.

Naghmeh Abedini