By Dan Wooding, Founder of ASSIST News Service
BOISE, IDAHO (ANS – September 5, 2015) – Naghmeh Abedini, the wife of Iranian-American Christian pastor, Saeed Abedini, imprisoned in Iran, has issued a call to prayer and fasting on behalf of her husband who has been detained in the land of his birth since the summer of 2012.
On January 27, 2013, Saeed was sentenced to eight years in prison, reportedly on charges of undermining national security through private religious gatherings in Christian homes in Iran in the early 2000s. In November 2013, the Iranian government transferred Abedini to Rajai Shahr prison, just outside of Karaj, Iran.
On her Facebook page, Nagmeh wrote, “I feel led by the Lord to start another 21 days of prayer and fasting. The prayer and fasting will start from September 6 to September 26 (the day of the prayer vigils and the date that Saeed was thrown in Iranian prison).
“I will be fasting from pleasant food (Daniel 10:3 – ‘I ate no pleasant food, no meat or wine came into my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled’). I plan to abstain from coffee and chocolate. You are free to abstain from food, social media, TV or skip a meal or two…the point is to spend that time in prayer.”
She went on to say, “The scripture that the Lord has given me for this time of prayer and fasting has been Hebrews 12:1-2. That as we remember Saeed and the persecuted church (the “witnesses”), we would look at our own walk with God and get rid of all of the sins that are so easily ensnaring us. The Lord is showing me that as we pray for Saeed and the persecuted church and remember the “witnesses” revival can be brought into our own life and in our country. Amen!”
Saeed Abedini is a former Muslim who converted to Christianity in 2000. While Christianity is recognized as a minority religion under the Iranian constitution, Muslim converts to Christianity suffer discrimination at the hands of Iranian authorities. In particular, such converts are disallowed from worshipping with other Christians in established Christian churches, which has led to the establishment of so-called “house” or “underground” churches where these converts can worship together.
In 2002, Abedini met and married his wife Naghmeh, an American citizen. In the early 2000s, the Abedinis became prominent in the house-church movement in Iran, at a time when the movement was tolerated by the Iranian government. During this period, Abedini is credited with establishing about 100 house churches in 30 Iranian cities with more than 2,000 members. With the election of Mahmoud Ahmedinejad in 2005, however, the house-church movement was subjected to a crackdown by Iranian authorities and the Abedinis moved back to the United States, where he lived with his wife and two children in Boise, Idaho, and was ordained by the local Calvary Chapel.
Abedini’s first trip back to Iran was in 2009 to visit his family, when government authorities detained him. According to Abedini, he was threatened with death during his interrogation over his conversion to Christianity. Ultimately he was released after signing a pledge to cease all house-church activities in the country. As part of this same agreement, Abedini was permitted to return to Iran freely to work on non-sectarian humanitarian efforts.
In 2010, he was granted American citizenship, thus becoming a dual Iranian-American citizen.
In July 2012, Abedini made his ninth trip to Iran since 2009 to visit his family and continue his work to build an orphanage in the city of Rasht. While in the country, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps confiscated his passports and placed him under house arrest. He was later transferred to Evin Prison, where he has been incarcerated since late September.
In mid-January 2013, it was reported that Abedini would go on trial on January 21, and could face the death penalty. He was charged with compromising national security, though the specific allegations were not made public. His supporters said his arrest was due to his conversion and attending peaceful Christianity gatherings in Iran. On January 21, 2013, Iranian state media reported that Abedini would be released after posting a $116,000 bond. His wife, however, stated that the government “has no intention of freeing him and that the announcement is ‘a game to silence’ international media reports.”
On January 27, 2013, Judge Pir-Abassi sentenced Abedini to eight years in prison. According to Fox News, Abedini was sentenced for having “undermined the Iranian government by creating a network of Christian house churches and … attempting to sway Iranian youth away from Islam.” The evidence against Abedini was based primarily on his activities in the early 2000s. Abedini was meant to serve his time in Evin Prison. The U.S. State Department has condemned the sentence, saying: “We condemn Iran’s continued violation of the universal right of freedom of religion and we call on the Iranian authorities to respect Mr. Abedini’s human rights and release him.”
Early November 2013, Abedini was transferred from Tehran to the Rajai Shahr prison in the town of Karaj, which is populated with heavy criminals, and has harsher, sometimes life-threatening, conditions.
Since his arrest, Naghmeh has worked tirelessly on his behalf and has even met with President Obama to solicit his support, but despite this, he is still languishing in prison in Iran.
Photo captions: 1) Nagmeh has been a tireless campaginer for her hushand. 2) On their wedding day. 3) An earlier picture of the family. 4) Dan Wooding recording his radio show.
About the writer: Dan Wooding, 74, is an award-winning author, broadcaster and journalist who was born in Nigeria of British missionary parents, and is now living in Southern California with his wife Norma, to whom he has been married for more than 52 years. They have two sons, Andrew and Peter, and six grandchildren who all live in the UK. Dan is the founder and international director of ASSIST (Aid to Special Saints in Strategic Times) and the ASSIST News Service (ANS). He is also the author of some 45 books, and next week, begins a new TV show for the Holy Spirit Broadcasting Network (http://hsbn.tv/) called “Inside Hollywood with Dan Wooding,” which is being produced and edited by Tim Hathaway.
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