I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you. (Colossians 4:18)
American pastor Saeed Abedini has been in an Iranian jail cell since last September. The pastor, born in Iran, was visiting his family when he was arrested. Pastor Abedini, through his marriage to his American wife, was granted U.S. citizenship in 2010. That move has not been recognized by Iran, which has continued to hold and beat the pastor, and has threatened him with execution.
Pastor Abedini’s wife, Nagmeh, has taken his cause to the American Center for Law and Justice, an organization that has also spoken out on behalf of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani. Nadarkhani was released from an Iranian prison last September and rearrested this past Christmas Day. He has since been released again, having finished out the remaining days of his earlier sentencing.
Pastor Abedini is also the father of two children — a six-year-old daughter and a four-year-old son. Up until last summer the pastor traveled back and forth between the United States and Iran without incident, but was placed under house arrest and charged with unspecified crimes in September.
Abedini has been taunted, lied to and beaten for his faith. In a letter the pastor was able to get out to his supporters he described that he has endured “intense pains after beatings in interrogations” and has been told that he will hang for his faith in Jesus Christ. The pastor’s case is now before Iranian Judge Pir-Abassi, whose reputation as a “hanging judge” precedes him. The judge earned that title for the number of prisoners he has consigned to the gallows.
Jordan Sekulow, executive director of the ACLJ, noted that the U.S. State Department has said little about Abedini. However, 49 members of Congress recently sent letters to the State Department urging Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to work toward freeing the pastor. The United States and Iran do not have direct formal diplomatic relations although the US does maintain an “interests section” at the Swiss embassy in Tehran. Iran does the same through Pakistan’s embassy in Washington, DC.
As Christians, we are called to remember those in prison as if we were fellow prisoners (Hebrews 13:3). Hebrews 11:36-38 outlines the suffering that many have accepted for following Jesus Christ, what Pastor Abedini has himself endured since last summer. Your prayers are, of course, coveted.
Please also keep Pastor Behnam Irani in your prayers as he continues to languish in an Iranian prison cell as well.
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