Saturday, 16 January 2016

Pastor Saeed Abedini is Finally Free

I can hardly believe this. After so much campaigning and so many petitions, Pastor Saeed Abedini, who was imprisoned in Iran for his Christian faith, has finally been freed. He has been held on death row, tortured, threatened and denied medical treatment for three years. Yet he never gave up hope.



The world has something to smile about. But do not forget that Christians are being persecuted all over the world.


This man was crucified in Libya for his Christian faith in 2015.

Saeed Abedini has finally been freed.
The Iranian-American pastor from Idaho, held for more than three years, was exchanged as part of a prisoner swap in which Iran released four people and the United States released seven.
"It is confirmed," his wife Naghmeh announced on Twitter. "Saeed is released from Iranian prison."

“This has been an answer to prayer,” she said in a press release from the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), one of Abedini's leading advocates. “This is a critical time for me and my family. We look forward to Saeed's return and want to thank the millions of people who have stood with us in prayer during this most difficult time.”

Naghmeh Abedini speaks at Boise rally.
ACLJ
Naghmeh Abedini speaks at Boise rally.
More than 1.1 million people had joined ACLJ's "Save Saeed" campaign. President Obama personally told Naghmeh last year that freeing her husband was "a top priority."
Supporters flocked to Naghmeh's Facebook post confirming the good news, which she received after nearly two weeks of Daniel-inspired prayer and fasting for his release.
The exchange fortuitously (or providentially) came as America observes Religious Freedom Day, though the timing was related to ongoing diplomacy surrounding Iran's nuclear program. (The US observed International Religious Freedom Day back in October.)
As CT previously reported, the now 35-year-old Abedini made frequent trips to Iran. A convert from Islam to Christianity, he had been warned by the Muslim nation against his involvement with house churches.

Saeed Abedini
ACLJ
Saeed Abedini
So in 2012, he returned instead to continue building a government-approved orphanage. While there, Abedini was pulled off a bus, charged with undermining national security, andsentenced to eight years in prison.
The sentence has resulted in torture and beatings and pressure to recant for Abedini, whose American wife and two children live in Boise, Idaho. His release had been requested by Billy Graham, the White HousePresident ObamaSecretary of State John Kerry, and theUnited Nations.

Jay Sekulow
ACLJ
Jay Sekulow
“We’re delighted this day has finally arrived,” stated Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the ACLJ. “Pastor Saeed should never been imprisoned in the first place. ... We’re grateful for the millions of people who have stood with us in our ongoing efforts—both in this country and abroad—to secure his release. We have worked and prayed that this day would finally arrive. And now, Pastor Saeed can return home.”
The Southern Baptist Convention awarded Abedini the 2014 Richard Land Distinguished Service Award for his "exemplary service and faithfulness to the kingdom of God."

An Abedini family vacation.
ACLJ
An Abedini family vacation.
“We are grateful for the release of Pastor Saeed," stated the ERLC's Russell Moore. "The prayers of the Body of Christ all over the world have been answered. This day of celebration should remind us to pray and work all the more for the multitudes still persecuted for their faith all over the world, including in Iran. We hope and long for the day when Iran, and nations like it, are free from those who wish to enslave the conscience at the point of a sword.”
CT has reported on Abedini’s sentencingtorture, and pressure to convert back to Islam, along with the best way to help save him. In November, Naghmeh halted her public advocacy for her husband, citing marital woes and abuse. She later resumed it.

CT's previous coverage of Iran includes how it is one of the world’s hardest countries in which to be a Christian, but also one with excellent evangelists and a record number of baptisms. CT reported on house pastor Yousef Nadarkhani'simprisonment and release, and talked with Maryam Rostampour and Marziyeh Amirizadeh after they spent eight months in Iran’s most notorious prison for their faith.

http://www.christianitytoday.com/gleanings/2016/january/iran-frees-pastor-saeed-abedini-after-three-years-prison.html

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