American evangelical pastor Saeed Abedini is the most famous of four Americans released from an Iranian prison, according to an article in the Washington Post today, Saturday, January 16, 2016. Abedini’s crime under Muslim law was that he converted from Islam to Christianity. Abedini has reportedly suffered more than three years in several Iranian prisons for organizing Christian house churches in Iran. He was convicted in 2013 of threatening Iran’s national security.
His wife Naghmeh Abedini, has never given up hope of being re-united with her husband after hearing reports of his mistreatment in Iran. She lives in Boise, Idaho with the couple’s children, Rebekka, 9, and Jacob, 7. She woke the children early Saturday with the news of the preacher’s release. She has campaigned on social media and at conferences for his release ever since the Iranians detained him.
Jordan Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice confirmed the release of the persecuted pastor. The ACLJ has been working diligently for his release since he was arrested in 2012 and sentenced to eight years in deadly Iranian prisons. He was reportedly beaten and denied medical treatment while in custody of the Iranians. There were concerns among many Christians that he would ever emerge alive from his captivity. Preachers across America demanded Abedini’s release from their pulpits for years.
Hopes that he would be released were dampened when the Iranian Treaty was signed without any agreement concerning the beleaguered pastor. He was leading an orphanage in Iran at the time of his arrest. ACLJ thanked an estimated one million people around the world who have supported the high profile movement to have the preacher released.
The pastor’s wife met with Donald Trump in the past to thank with him for his efforts to obtain her husband’s release. Following the meeting, she issued the following statement, “I am most thankful that of the many issues that Mr.Trump could engage he has chosen to speak out about the unjust imprisonment of my husband by the Iranian government. This reveals to me the heart of Mr.Trump and his commitment to religious freedom. I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to Mr. Trump for his concern of my husband and our family. I am very greateful for his support and want to offer the most valuable gift I have….the gift of prayer. May God bless Mr. Trump and his family.”
Trump had stated following the meeting, “Iran must immediately allow Christian #Pastor Saeed out of prison or we should put back sanctions which should never have been lifted.”
Iranian state television said Saturday that the government freed four dual-nationality prisoners. Abedini’s wife, Naghmeh, who outspokenly urged the Obama administration for help in freeing her husband announced on Twitter Saturday that her husband one of the four men freed, according to The Blaze, today, Saturday, January 16, 2016.
/Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, former U.S. Marine Amir Hekmati and nosratollah Khosrawi-Roodsan were also released today. A fifth American Matthew Trevithick, a student, was released after being held 40 days. Rezian’s mother and wife, who live in Iran, boarded a flight out of Tehran. The four Americans will be transferred to the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, an American military hospital in German for immediate medical treatment before returning home.
The story of Pastor Saeed Abedini is one of the most inspirational stories of modern Christianity. He refused to renounce Christ even though he faced possible death in the brutal Iranian prison system. Promised his freedom if he would deny Christ by his Muslim captors, he refused and suffered three years at the hands of his vicious guards. He was refused medical treatment while there. We will never know how close he came to being a martyr. But the fact he was willing to face that possibility is remarkable. Do you believe in miracles? Yes.