I attended a prayer vigil for Pastor Saeed Abedini this past Friday at the State Capitol Building in Lansing. It was one of 500 vigils held in 35 countries around the world, commemorating the two year anniversary of when Pastor Saeed was incarcerated in an Iranian prison where he is tortured for his Christian faith.
Saeed is an American citizen with a wife and two children:
Most American Christians take it for granted that we have freedom of religion and freedom from religious persecution in our country. I know I have my entire life. We know people in the Bible were martyred for their faith and we hear of occasional stories from around the world, but these typically don’t move the meter of our awareness much. Things are a bit different today though. You hear about ISIS persecuting and killing Christians (and others) in the Middle East regularly. Facebook and Twitter have been abuzz with the Arabic letter for “N” on people’s profile pics. Daily news of ISIS beheadings and threats fill the pages of our newspapers and our news telecasts. For many Americans, there is a genuine fear that ISIS terrorists will begin their acts of violence in the United States any day, as exemplified by the story of a reporter dressing up like an ISIS member and walking across the Mexico-United States border with a machete, ISIS flag, and fake severed head in hand, in an effort to show how easy it is for ISIS to enter our country.
Persecution no longer feels like something that only happens in a land far away. The good news in this is that it raises our awareness of our brothers and sisters in Christ who are being persecuted in the Middle East and other places globally, as we realize this actually could happen to us. What would it be like to be taken from your spouse and children and brutally beaten and tortured in prison because of your faith in Jesus as your Lord and Savior? What would it be like for your spouse and children? Hebrews 13:3, speaking about Christians who are imprisoned and persecuted because of their faith, says: Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.
On Friday at the prayer vigil for Pastor Saeed, I felt like I had the opportunity to live out this verse for the first time. It honestly was the first time I’d experienced a personal touch to someone imprisoned for their faith in Jesus. And that touch was very moving. During the vigil, a letter Pastor Saeed wrote to his daughter for her 8th birthday was read aloud. Below is a video where you can view Saeed’s wife Naghmeh read the letter aloud. You can also view it here. After you read or listen to the letter, please consider praying for Saeed and his family and signing the petition for the United States government and the United Nations to act to pressure Iran’s government to free Saeed, an American citizen illegally imprisoned (illegal by Iran’s own laws) for committing no crime:
- Sign the petition to free Saeed at: http://beheardproject.com/saeed
- To keep updated on what is happening, you can heck in with the ACLJ website : http://aclj.org
- Naghmeh’s most recent interview on CBN : http://www.cbn.com/cbnnews/
world/2014/September/A- Painful-Reality-The-Long- Battle-to-Free-Saeed/#. VCWKiB3P4Es.facebook