Tag Archives: Saeed Abedini

Pastor Saeed Writes of “Psychological Warfare,” “Physical Violence,” and “Death Threats” in Iranian Prison

This post is a reprint of an article first posted at https://aclj.org/iran/pastor-saeed-writes-psychological-warfare-physical-violence-death-threats-iranian-prison . Follow this link to see video coverage. Please join in prayers for Pastor Saeed and sign the petition for his release.  

Earlier this week, American Pastor Saeed Abedini was able to write a letter to his wife and supporters detailing the horrific conditions he suffers in Iran’s brutal Evin Prison.

Pastor Saeed has now been imprisoned in Iran nearly five months. He describes how the “the psychological warfare, a year of not seeing my family, physical violence, actions committed to humiliate me, insults, being mocked,” extremists and other bullying groups in Evin “create another prison within the prison walls.”

In his last public letter, before his conviction, Pastor Saeed wrote that he was told he “will hang” for his faith. Today, he says that he still faces “death threats” in prison.

For the first time, Pastor Saeed acknowledges that the beatings and torture are designed to get him to recant his Christian faith – something he says he will never do. “They are only waiting for one thing…for me to deny Christ,” he wrote. “But they will never get this from me.”

In one instance, a fellow cellmate “attacked” him because he was singing praise songs.

As Pastor Saeed writes, “It is during these harsh conditions, that I deeply need God’s Saving Grace so that I can be the fragrant scent of Christ in the dark house of Evin prison.”

These are the conditions he will face every day for the next eight years of his prison sentence. Pastor Saeed, a U.S. citizen, is being forced to undergo some of the most horrific conditions imaginable.

Upon receiving this heartbreaking letter, Pastor Saeed’s wife, Naghmeh, told us:

It is heart wrenching to hear of Saeed’s continued abuse and torture in the Iranian prison. We have known for some time that he is facing physical and psychological abuse. Now our worst fears have been confirmed. He continues to face life-threatening abuse at the hands of the Iranian officials simply because of his faith in Jesus. These are the dreadful conditions he will continue to face as he serves his lengthy prison sentence in Iran. Saeed is an American citizen who is being pressured and falsely promised freedom if only he will deny his faith in Jesus. We have seen this tactic used in the past. Saeed will never recant his faith in Jesus – even if it means continued torture and abuse. Our primary concern is for his health and well-being with each passing day. We know that while he is very weak physically, Saeed is strong in his faith. His situation is dire and with the continued abuse and death threats, we are not sure how long Saeed will survive these horrendous conditions in prison. The most important thing we can do is pray, continue to raise awareness of his case and continue to work for his freedom.

It is incumbent upon each of us to stand up for this 32-year-old U.S. citizen, loving father of two, devoted husband, and committed pastor.

It is rare that he is able to get a letter like this to the public. He has no voice. Each of us must be his voice. Sign the petition for his freedom at SaveSaeed.org. After you have signed the petition, please consider who of your family and friends can also sign this petition to save Pastor Saeed.

Below is the complete letter from Pastor Saeed, translated into English – a powerful testimony of perseverance in the face of unspeakable persecution:

Writing from my heart.

My Dear Friends,

The conditions here get so very difficult that my eyes get blurry, my body does not have the strength to walk, and my steps become very weak and shaky.

Various (bullying) groups, the psychological warfare, a year of not seeing my family, physical violence, actions committed to humiliate me, insults, being mocked, being confronted with extremists in the prison who create another prison within the prison walls, and the death threats…

It is interesting that because I am a Christian pastor, I am carefully watched. I am expected to smile at them despite what is being done and to understand why they are doing all of these things. But, of course, I can clearly see what is going on and because I want to serve God, I see all of these difficulties as golden opportunities and great doors to serve. There are empty containers who are thirsty for a taste of the Living Water and we can quench their thirst by giving them Jesus Christ. Maybe you are also in such a situation, so pray and seek God that He would use you and direct you in the pressures and difficulties of your lives.

There are those who are enemies of the Living Bible and do not want to hear. They are trying to put me under such horrific pressures (that are sometimes unbearable) so that they can show me that my faith is empty and not real. And after all of these pressures, after all of the nails they have pressed against my hands and feet, they are only waiting for one thing…for me to deny Christ. But they will never get this from me. This is why the Bible is Truth and they are in the way of destruction.

There is another group who does not know the Gospel of Truth. Instead of truly listening and meditating on God’s Word, they are just waiting to see how I react to all of their pressures and persecution. What will come out of me during these intense times? But again, this is another golden opportunity for me to shine the light of Christ in this dark world and to let God to use me.

Yesterday when I was singing worship songs, the head of my cell room attacked me in order to stop me from praising but in response I hugged him and showed him love. He was shocked.

It is during these harsh conditions, that I deeply need God’s Saving Grace so that I can be the fragrant scent of Christ in the dark house of Evin prison. I have often seen the Shining Morning Star in the darkness of this prison and I have seen His amazing and supernatural works. Oh, how beautiful is seeing the light of the Shining Morning Star of Christ in such evil darkness.

So:

  • See your golden opportunities in pressures and difficulties.
  • See the Shining Morning Star in the dark times of your life.

I Love Him! He is Gracious, Merciful, and Righteous to me. I now know that I have not been forgotten and that we are together in this path. God gives me Grace. This is my message for the Church: Stay Strong for His Glory. He will come back soon! Be with God and give your best efforts for His kingdom.

Pastor Saeed, servant of Jesus Christ in chains for endurance of Gospel. I love you all.

Share his letter. Pray. Join over a quarter of a million others, and sign the petition at SaveSaeed.org.

Could you be ‘Steadfast Under Fire’ the way Pastor Saeed is? Learn about persecution and the Christian response to persecution at the VOM Classroom.

Pray for Saeed Abedini and his family

In an article published shortly after Pastor Saeed was sentenced, his wife said that he has twenty days to appeal his conviction. Pray Psalm 57 for Saeed Abedini. Speak his name instead of saying “I” or “me” as you pray this psalm.

Why Saeed Abedini is a Threat to Iranian National Security

Saeed AbediniReading the news of the trial and conviction of Saeed Abedini is horrifying. To American eyes, it is shocking. American minds cannot readily absorb that such events can possibly be real. It is the twenty-first century. Human beings have come a long way from the days of tribal violence and social stratification that produce stories such as this.

To American Christians, it all sounds illegal and unfair.

To the government of Iran, it all makes perfect sense.

The government of Iran is an Islamic republic. When Americans heard that Saeed Abedini was considered a threat to national security, American ears rejected the idea, because Abedini is not an employee of some government hired to find out the military and political weak spots of Iran which an enemy government could exploit in an attempt to conquer and subdue Iran. That is the American image of a spy or a threat to national security. That image has nothing to do with the Iranian image of the threat posed by Saeed Abedini.

In the USA people are accustomed to believe that the government does not have and should not have any concern with someone’s religion. US citizens believe in any god or no god without governmental involvement. This is because the USA has no state religion, and as long as the Constitution remains the foundation of US government, the US never will have a state religion. In Iran, however, the state religion is Islam. As a natural consequence of that fact, Islam is protected by the state. It has preference over all other religions. Islamic religious leaders have power in the political functions of the state.

What’s more, Islam teaches that there can be no such thing as separation of church and state. Islam teaches that the life of an individual or the life of a state simply does not have a secular component. To Muslims, there is no such division in life as the separation of sacred and secular. Islam is all and in all.

This is the root of a conviction that when someone betrays or turns away from Islam, the state is at risk. When someone in Iran listens to Christian teaching and responds to it, Islam teaches that this person has rejected Allah and become an infidel. The Iranian government views conversion from Islam to Christianity the same way American citizens viewed the recruitment of spies by the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Everyone could understand that someone from the USSR could spy for the USSR, but it was the deepest sort of betrayal for an American citizen to fall to that level. That is the way Iranian Muslims view Iranian converts to Christianity. That is why Saeed Abedini is viewed with such revulsion by the Iranian government.

Saeed Abedini is an American Christian today, but he was born in Iran and grew up Muslim. As an adult, he converted to Christianity. He immediately began to work with the house churches in Iran. Saeed Abedini not only rejected Islam and turned away, but he led others to do the same thing. He is a convert from Islam who led other people to convert from Islam. To the religious leadership in Iran, he was like a malignant infection that needed to be cured. The Ayatollah Khomeini would have been required to sign the papers authorizing Saeed’s sentence, and it is easy to imagine that the Ayatollah signed with both a heavy heart for having lost this young man and a real feeling of vengeance against him for poisoning the faithful with his Christian evangelism.

This activity began in the year 2000, and at the time Saeed began his work, the government of Iran was not engaged in suppression of the house church movement. The religious teaching about the perfidy of conversion from Islam was the same then as now, but the government did not at that time take action against Christian house churches. The movement was low-profile, and likely the government believed it would fade away. It did not.

Iran officially protects religious liberty, but to Islamic Iranian thinking, the term religious liberty has a very different meaning from the one Americans use. For example, the government of Iran does not usually view a Christian as a threat if the Christian was born into a Christian family and reared in that family’s Christian church. In that situation, Iranian Muslims view the family as “people of the book” and consider them non-threatening. They expect a family to bring up children in the family faith. This concept holds true in many countries where Islam is the dominant faith. Iran believes that it protects religious liberty when it tolerates churches and the Christian upbringing of the children of church members.

On the other hand, a Muslim who converts to Christianity is considered a threat. Churches with ancient traditions in the country, such as Armenian Christians, are registered with the government as legitimate religions and are represented in the legislature, but churches that develop as the spontaneous result of conversions from Islam are considered to be threats to the national security. Despite protections for religions with long-standing traditions in Iran, the Iranian government does not protect the right to change from one religion to another. The fact that the house church movement in Iran is currently experiencing dramatic growth is likely the reason that the government has increased its activity against Christians who are part of that movement. The house churches represent converts, and converts are enemies of the state. Iran is a signatory to the UN Declaration of Human Rights, but Iran has faced down pressure from the UN more than once over its unique interpretation of that document.

Saeed Abedini did not go to Iran in 2012 as a house church evangelist. In 2008, he had been arrested for his work in that activity. After he agreed to stop evangelistic work with house churches, Iran’s intelligence police agreed to permit him to visit Iran from time to time in order to continue helping to build a non-religious orphanage. Saeed’s trip to Iran in 2012 was for the purpose of working on the orphanage. However, by this time, the house church movement in Iran had achieved a momentum that was being perceived as a threat, the president of Iran had declared Christianity to be a menace, and Saeed’s work with the house church movement in 2000 was re-examined. He was pulled off a bus on September 26, 2012, and charged with being a threat to national security. After a one-day trial on January 21, 2013, he was convicted and sentenced to eight years imprisonment in Evin prison, one of Iran’s harshest facilities. His future is grim, indeed.

Around the world, Christians under persecution suffer terrible indignities, not to mention real torture. It is reasonable to expect that this will be the lot of Saeed Abedini. Open Doors International has contacts in many countries that pass on the prayer requests of the persecuted Christians. These Christians do not usually ask that we pray for their rescue; they ask that we pray for their testimony. Some reports of Saeed Abedini’s trial suggest that he was able to give a faithful testimony during his very brief trial, and his life story suggests that he will make a faithful testimony during his imprisonment.

Saeed’s story brings to mind the story of Joseph, imprisoned on a false charge, who was a blessing to everyone in the prison. The Bible tells us that “the LORD was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love.” (Genesis 39:21) The apostle Paul was imprisoned frequently. Whenever Paul was in prison, he used the situation as an opportunity to testify to his faith. Given the opportunity to speak, he said to men with the power of life and death over him, “I pray to God that not only you but also all who are listening to me today might become such as I am—except for these chains.” (Acts 26:29) We pray that the Lord will be with Saeed the same way. May God grant him faith, courage, health and strength. May he persevere in hope. We also pray that worldwide efforts, including numerous petitions for his release, will have success according to God’s purposes. When one suffers, we all suffer with him. Keep Saeed Abedini in your prayers.

 

Pastor Saeed Abedini Sentenced to Eight Years in Evin Prison in Iran

In news released yesterday (January 27, 2013) Pastor Saeed Abedini, an American citizen accused of being a threat to Iranian national security, has been sentenced to eight years imprisonment in one of Iran’s most harsh prisons. Some reports said that he had been beaten and tortured while in prison since his arrest on September 26, 2012. Please keep Pastor Abedini and his family in your prayers.

Continue in Prayer for Saeed Abedini

I have not been able to find any news today about the progress of the trial of Saeed Abedini, on trial in Iran accused of being a threat to national security. However, this article may provide background to inform your prayers. Arrests of Christians like Saeed have become common in Iran since 2005. Christians must hold him up in prayer as he awaits a verdict and sentencing. May God grant that the charges will be dropped and that Saeed will be released and permitted to return home to his family. May God sustain him in faithful testimony through this tribulation. May we all join our hearts with his.