Make A Difference

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For many months now I have been following a story that didn’t take long to work into my daily thoughts.  I find myself praying often, day and night, for a man and a family I have never met.

If you haven’t heard of Pastor Saeed Abedini, let me tell you a bit about his story and why he is heavy on my heart these days.  In July 2012, Pastor Saeed was detained in Iran and told he must stand trial for his Christian faith.  The trial never happened.  Instead Pastor Saeed was taken out from under house arrest and transported to Evin Prison in Iran.  No trial.

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In Evin Prison he was subject to solitary confinement for many weeks and torture.  Though he was tortured, he was denied medical treatment for his injuries because he is Christian.

President Obama, Billy Graham and countless others have petitioned the Iranian President to release Pastor Saeed.  Instead of forward progress, Pastor Saeed was moved from Evin Prison to Rajai Shahr Prison.  Not only is he in this terrible prison, but he is being housed in the ‘violent criminal’ ward.  Where a 3 meter by 3 meter cell is shared by murderers and rapists.  In this prison, in this ward, prisoner on prisoner violence (including murder) is common place.  We’ve just been informed today that he has been robbed numerous times, denied his medication and left in deplorable conditions so that lice has taken over his body and his health is quickly deteriorating.  Iran has send him to disappear and he has been left for dead.

This is where he spends his days and his nights.  I can’t imagine how hard it must be.  Away from everything he’s known and his family.  For 435 days so far.

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Through this, thousands, perhaps even hundreds of thousands have been praying for Pastor Saeed.  We’ve seen movement in very positive ways but we’ve also seen President Obama leave Pastor Saeed out of talks with Iran.  I am well aware that there may be details and motivations that we don’t know about and that being the President is not always cut and dry.  However, I cannot see why the plight of Pastor Saeed has been largely ignored and why there isn’t a much larger public outcry being heard.  This man’s only crime is being a Christian, yet he is being housed in a ward with some of the most violent criminals in Iran.

“You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved.” Matthew 10:22

It’s hard to know how to pray for Pastor Saeed and his family.  God’s will will be done.  Of that I am sure and I will continue to pray.  I want to pray for freedom for him (and I do), yet I know that he is making an impact where he is.  One that may shake the very core of that prison.

Naghmeh (Pastor Saeed’s wife) wrote this on Facebook last month about Pastor Saeed’s time in Evin Prison.

Pastor Saeed legacyWow, what an amazing impact he has already made for the Lord in a situation so desperate.  My prayer is that the Lord will surround Pastor Saeed and his family with an abundance of peace and the sure knowledge that He is in control and loves them so much.

Prayer is fantastic and so easy.  The Lord loves it when we come to Him.  That is, after all, why He created us.

There are other things we can do though, to help Pastor Saeed and increase the pressure on the Iranian government to release him.  Tomorrow (DECEMBER 4th, 2013), every Christian who has access to a social media platform, great or small, is asked to feature Pastor Saeed and request that the government use it’s God given power for good to secure his release!  Here’s the request from Naghmeh:

Pastor Saeed dayThis is something so many of us can do.  It’s quick and easy and could make a huge difference in the life of Pastor Saeed and those who love him.  I hope that you will join me in spreading the story of Pastor Saeed all over the world.  Together we can be a huge beacon of light on a huge injustice.

More than that though, let us come together and pray that the Lord will continue to use Pastor Saeed’s imprisonment for His glory!  That many will be brought to the only One who saves.  The only One who loves completely.  The One true God.  Also, pray for others who are also facing persecution!

I heard this song for the first time today and I can see evidence that, through all this horror, Pastor Saeed (and his family) are living this.  So many ARE seeing the Lord in them.

For more information on Pastor Saeed and the path the Lord has him on, click HERE.

For the Facebook page ‘Pray for Pastor Saeed Abedini’ where you can see all the updates, click HERE.

For more information on tomorrow’s social media outcry, please click HERE.

“Scars and struggles on the way, but with joy our hearts can say: Never once did we ever walk alone.”

~Sarah

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Modern Day Paul

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This is a different kind of ‘World Moment’ today.  A much more important one.  One man’s life hangs in the balance and we may be able to change it for the better.

Many of you may know Pastor Saeed’s story, but for those of you who don’t, here it is.  This is taken from www.savesaeed.org.

“Most of us know that there are places in the world where Christians undergo immense persecution for their faith. But distance breeds forgetfulness, and for too many of us, out of sight does mean out of mind. We cannot, however, forget our imprisoned brothers and sisters.

Saeed Abedini, a 33-year-old Pastor, father, and husband from Idaho, is currently imprisoned in Evin Prison in Tehran, Iran. On 28 July 2012, during a visit to Tehran to visit family and to finalize the board members for an orphanage he was building in Iran, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard detained Saeed, asserting that he must face criminal charges for his Christian faith. After intense interrogations, Saeed was placed under house arrest and told to wait for a court summons. On 26 September 2012, instead of receiving a summons telling him where to appear, five members of the Revolutionary Guard raided Saeed’s parents’ home in Tehran, confiscated many of Saeed’s belongings, and took him to an unknown location. After four days the Revolutionary Guard informed the family that Saeed was in solitary confinement in the notorious Evin Prison.

Saeed remained in solitary confinement for approximately four weeks before he was moved to Evin Prison. During solitary confinement, Saeed was only brought out of his small, dark cell to be subjected to abusive interrogations.

Saeed has been beaten and threatened with death for his faith. In a letter Saeed penned from prison on 10 January 2013, Saeed said: I am “told I will hang for my faith in Jesus” and that he suffered “intense pains after beatings in interrogations.” He appeared before Judge Pir-Abassi on 21 January 2013, to present his defence  The lawyer confirmed in Iranian news that Saeed was on trial for intentionally undermining the national security of Iran through his leadership in Christian house churches. Saeed and his attorney argued that his intention in gathering with Christian believers was motivated solely by his faith and that he had no intent to undermine the government. Judge Pir-Abassi had requested Saeed’s lawyer go to the media and state that the trial was conducted fairly and that he would be let out on bail soon. Yet, the family had sought bail in the past, and was repeatedly denied.

One week after Saeed had presented his defence, he was convicted and sentenced to eight years in prison. He has been in prison for more than 220 days.
Saeed had been denied medical treatment for infections that resulted from beatings. The ward doctor and nurse refused to treat him because, as a Christian, he was considered “unclean” and an infidel. Saeed’s family in Tehran may visit Saeed on Mondays, but he is not permitted to make phone calls, cutting him off from his wife and two young children in the U.S.

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In late February it became known that Saeed was suffering from internal bleeding, an injury from beatings he endured during interrogations. Doctors examined Saeed in early March and determined that his injuries warranted immediate attention, and, in their medical opinion, he needed to be treated in a non-prison hospital. For a month, the Iranian regime ignored this advice. In an attempt to appease international pressure, on 8 April 2013, the Saeed was taken to a private hospital. Before doing so, guards forced Saeed to change his prison uniform to that of a murderer. Saeed resisted, the guards beat him, and forced him to wear the uniform. When Saeed arrived at the hospital he was never admitted or treated because, according to the guards, the doctor on staff was not present. Saeed has reported that several cell-mates  who appear to be connected to the Iranian intelligence police, have threatened to suffocate Saeed while he sleeps.

Recently, Saeed’s condition became even more serious. Having been denied medical attention, he was thrown into solitary confinement. Beforehand, Saeed complained of kidney pain. He and the several other prisoners wrote a letter to prison officials in peaceful protest of lack of access to medical attention. In response, Iranian officials placed ten prisoners under solitary confinement, Saeed among them. Last time he was in solitary confinement, his medical condition substantially worsened. There is no reason to believe this time will be different. Saeed is now cut off from any visitation.

A petition has been started in Saeed’s name, and it quickly received overwhelming media attention. Secretary of State John Kerry has called for his release, the White House has called for his release, and the House of Representatives held an emotional hearing that highlighted Pastor Saeed’s plight. Multiple nations have called for Saeed’s release, and ACLJ attorneys have argued his case before the United Nations. Saeed’s petition has over 610,000 signatures and a letter writing campaign to encourage Saeed has garnered over 50,000 letters. Artists such as Toby Mac, Michael W. Smith, Steven Curtis Chapman, Mercy Me, Skillet, Relient K, and Audio Adrenaline have been involved, and lent their voices to raise awareness.

There is still much to be done. Keep up with Saeed’s story through the Be Heard Project. Share his story on social media using #SaveSaeed and #BeHeard.”

Here is a letter from Pastor Saeed:

We’re working through Philippians in church these days and I cannot help but see the similarities in Pastor Saeed’s letters and the Apostle Paul’s.

Both struggle and face hardship in prison.  Both of them talk of desiring to see God move in the lives of those imprisoned around them.  Both encourage the believers that read or hear the letter to remain steadfast and seek the Lord in times of trouble.  Amazing men of faith in times of terrible persecution.

I hope that you will join me in reaching out to the Iranian government to release Paster Saeed.  After nearly a year of imprisonment and torture for his faith, it’s time for him to go home to his family.

You can sign the petition, sign a letter and join in the fight to get Pastor Saeed home, here:

http://www.beheardproject.com/saeed

Also, you can join in the prayer vigil to be held on September 28th!

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Thank you.
~Sarah