Saeed Abedini was born in Iran to a Muslim family and was raised Muslim. Around 2000, he converted to Christianity and married Naghmeh, an American citizen and moved to the United States. Over the next twelve years, Saeed made a number of trips back to Iran to help Iranian Christians.
According to Article 13 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran:
“Article 13 [Recognized Religious Minorities]”
“Zoroastrian, Jewish, and Christian Iranians are the only recognized religious minorities, who, within the limits of the law, are free to perform their religious rites and ceremonies, and to act according to their own canon in matters of personal affairs and religious education.”
But when someone converts from Islam to Christianity, Iran tosses their constitution out the window and persecutes the convert. Converted Christians are not allowed to worship with regular Christians and end up worshipping in ‘house’ or ‘underground’ churches.
After his conversion to Christianity, Saeed is credited with starting around 100 underground churches until his arrest in 2012. He was in Iran to help build an orphanage in Rasht when his passport was taken by government officials and he was placed on house arrest. He was tried in January 2013 on charges of compromising national security which could result in the death penalty.
On January 27, 2013, Saeed was sentenced to 8 years in prison on charges of undermining the Iranian government by establishing a system of Christian house churches and for trying to convert Iranian Muslim youth to Christianity. Saeed was first sent to Evin Prison and then transferred to the prison at Rajai Shahr, which is considered one of the worst and most dangerous prisons in the world.
The international community quickly publicized Saeed’s arrest and imprisonment. His family has visited him often and reported the many times he’s been tortured and beaten. Just over a month ago, his family reported that he was attacked and beaten by other prisoners.
In the family’s latest visit, they reported that the news of the US-Iranian nuclear deal has made its way through the inmates at the prison. Consequently, anti-American sentiment has increased among the prisoners and Saeed believes that he is now a target of their aggression because he is an American citizen.
He has been a target of prisoner abuse because of his Christianity and now because he’s an American citizen and the prisoners are upset over the nuclear deal that Obama and Kerry brokered with the Iranian government.
Despite the increased danger to his life, Pastor Saeed’s faith remains strong and he shared this letter with his fellow brothers and sisters in Christ:
I know that so many of you have felt that I have been left behind after a deal was reached with Iran and I am still not home.
I want you to know that as I wrote the thank you letter to President Obama after he had visited my family in January of this year (which he read at the national prayer breakfast), that God is in control of all countries and leadership in the world when the body of Christ comes together in united prayer. He is in control and He is the One who beautifully writes the history over all governments, presidents, and any P5+1 negotiating team.
We are all looking for a safer, more friendly world and because of this desire many of us are happy and others un-happy about the deal. Please join me in using these emotions that have been awakened to give fervor to united prayer for God’s chosen people, America, and for the whole world.
In chains for Christ and chained together in unity
As I read his letter I couldn’t help but see the similarity between Pastor Saeed and the Apostle Paul. They are both converts to Christ, started many churches and both imprisoned for their faith. Like Paul, Saeed’s life is in serious danger while in prison but he continues to encourage fellow Christians and refuses to stop preaching the Gospel.
Pastor Saeed Abedini needs our prayers now more than ever. Prayer is the most powerful tool and weapon we have and we need to be on our knees daily praying for Saeed’s safety and his released from prison.