Wednesday, 4 December 2013

How Much Are You Willing To Sacrifice?

Pastor Saeed Abedini was born in Iran and converted to Christianity from Islam. He later got married, moved to the USA and is now an American citizen. On a visit to Iran over a year ago he was imprisoned, reportedly for his previous Christian evangelical activities there.

Please join me in praying fervently for his release, for his health and strength and for his family.

He has been moved to a very tough prison, where political prisoners' lives are at risk because they don't get the medical attention they need, and are surrounded by violent criminals. 

In this update you can read how he has been threatened at knifepoint, and his medication for internal bleeding from beatings has been withheld by prison authorities. Prisoners in Iran are murdered by torture and political prisoners are often executed.

You can also do more than just pray for his release - I have detailed some of these things at the end of this post.

But we can also learn from him and his family.

Taking pleasure in suffering

I was at a conference where his wife, Naghmeh Abedini, spoke. Many of us in that position would spend the time pleading for effort and prayer to be put into freeing our husbands. But she didn't, although we did pray for them afterwards.

Instead she spoke on having joy in affliction. She talked about how she has learned through this incredible trial to lean on God and to take joy in the suffering because it brings her closer to Christ. And she encouraged us to do the same.

We can learn from her, not just to look for relief in our pain and trials, but to use them to draw us closer to God. To lean on Christ and draw our strength from Him. To even get to the point of rejoicing in our affliction as Paul did:

Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 
2 Corinthians 12:10

Willing to sacrifice

I met Pastor Saeed last year, and was impressed by his obvious love for God and others. He has sacrificed so much for his faith and from living in obedience to God.

Are you willing to give up the things that are closest to your heart if God leads you that way? Are you even open to it and asking God what He would have you do? Or are you, like many of us in this culture, comfortable with your life and not wanting to rock the boat?

Pastor Saeed clearly views life from an eternal perspective - working for what matters in eternity. He is following Jesus' example, who suffered for doing the will of God.

How should we respond to his imprisonment?

As I was pondering how to write this I wondered how Pastor Saeed views his imprisonment.

Update: since writing this I have come across this letter from him, written to his wife, where you can hear firsthand from him.

Like Pastor Saeed, Paul the apostle was also imprisoned for his faith. These are some of the things Paul says about it in the letters that he wrote from prison:
  • He will be rewarded on the day he sees Jesus 2 Tim 4:8
  • He is chained, but the word of God is not! 2 Tim 2:9
  • All who desire to live a godly life will suffer persecution 2 Tim 3:12
  • His imprisonment has turned out for the furtherance of the gospel Phil 1:12 - let's pray that this also happens now.
'For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that day.' 
2 Timothy 1:12

Things you can do to ask for Pastor Saeed's release 

Sign a petition here, and another here, to request the U.S. government to ask for Pastor Saeed's release

Sign a petition asking EU Foreign affairs to put pressure on Iran to provide medical attention for their political prisoners

The advice below is taken from the facebook page dedicated to #freesaeed:

On Twitter

If there is a link under a name you can simply click to send the tweet.

Tweet President Obama
We respectfully request that you use the full powers of your office to liberate Pastor Saeed Abedini! #freesaeed #savesaeed
Tweet The President of Iran
@HassanRouhani We respectfully request you release Saeed Abedini as an act of mercy and friendship! #freesaeed #savesaeed
If you are an American citizen:
Email your leaders!

1.Please email each of your state's two US Senators. Contact info can be found here:

2.Please look up and then email your Representative in the House.

We suggest your emails be BRIEF, RESPECTFUL, and SPECIFIC.

The following is a suggested format for those looking for assistance in drafting their emails. You can send the same email to all 4 individuals, just addressing each one separately as needed.

1st paragraph) Identify yourself as their constituent, but also as one of (however many we have by then) thousands of like minded men and women across the country that are concerned over the injustice of Saeed Abedini's continued imprisonment in Iran. A link to the facebook page could be included here as proof of our numbers.

2nd paragraph) Thank them for their previous support in calling on Iran to release Saeed. Then express your disappointment that a nuclear agreement with Iran was recently made that did not include Saeed's release.

3rd paragraph) Express that religious freedom and the return of an American citizen to his family is a bipartisan issue that all Americans of whatever political party should support. Ask them to use all of their influence to help bring Saeed home.

Close with a thank you.

It is very important to make this effort. You could also fax the same letter to their office, post on their facebook, and of course personally telephone their office and talk to a staff person. However, please at minimum send these four emails.


Anonymous said...

Dear Rhoda. Here in the Netherlands we have the jubilee Campaign in order to free Saeed. 20.000 people have signed a petition and our fervent prayers go with it. Thank you for sharing this. It should be shouted all over God's Planet: Please Stop This Terrible Injustice!!! Love and blessings from our Lord, Annette

Rhoda said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rhoda said...

Hi Annette,I'm so glad the Netherlands are getting involved too!

Alison Wellby said...

Wow. What an inspiring and brave couple. Blessed are those who are persecuted ...


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