Ecstatic joy, tears and praise to God were among the mixed emotions and reactions from millions of Christians all over the world to the stunning news of American Pastor Saeed Abedini’s release from prison. The news was confirmed, Saturday, January 17, on “Religious Freedom Day”; Pastor Saeed Abedini was indeed freed! After 3 1/2 years of wrongful imprisonment, torture and illness, Saeed arrived home on American soil, last night; Thursday, January 21! The voices of millions of Christians have finally been answered. God has done the miraculous. At this time, Saeed is resting, as a guest of Billy Graham, at a retreat center for pastors known as The Cove, in North Carolina. On Monday, in this place of privacy and peace, Naghmeh and their children are scheduled to visit. We can only imagine the sweet and tearful reunion when the Saeed family, finally meet. Saeed’s devoted wife, Naghmeh will have her husband returned and their precious children: Jacob (7) and Rebekka (9), will have their father back.
What makes this story so special to our church is that Naghmeh was a speaker at our women’s retreat at the Murrieta Hot Springs Conference Center last year. All the women attending had a time when they joined with Naghmeh to petition God for Saeed’s freedom. A year later, while attending the same conference, it was amazing to hear the good news of Saeed’s release. As the news was announced during breakfast, hundreds clapped and shouted together. In unison, we gave the glory to the Lord; it was an awesome atmosphere of celebration. God’s timing is so perfect; Saeed’s release became so personal for every woman who had interceded for him the year before.
In recognition of God’s divine intervention, Naghmeh said, “This has been an answer to prayer.” She continued to thank the millions of people who stood with them in prayer. Her family will need us to continue in prayer as they reunite. Saeed will need privacy while healing, time to re-adjust and move forward in to whatever the Lord has for them as a family in the future.
Saeed was released with three other hostages: Washington Post Reporter, Jason Rezaian; Marine, Amir Hekmati and Nosratollah Khosravi-Roodsari, who was not on the plane that left Tehran. A fourth person, Matthew Trevithick, was released independently and was reunited with family on Sunday. Saeed Abedini’s release was part of the nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers in which Iran agreed to an exchange for at least six people imprisoned or charged in the U.S.; despite the controversy over ransom paid for hostages and the fear of Americans being taken hostage for greater demands. Prayers will continue to be lifted up for the Christians persecuted across the world. Remember, thousands of our brothers and sisters in Christ are still being held in hostile prisons, facing death; and intersession should continue for the terrorists who may have been touched by the Gospel in American prisons.
Through this I hope people will recognize that God does answer prayer and they’d be encouraged to pray more; that petitions to God’s throne room will increase. Those in the world have witnessed a God who is sovereign; He moves the hearts of men to do His will.
Take these truths to heart, God can send an earthquake or angels to open the prison doors (Acts 12:1-17; Acts 16:16-40). He can also set us free from our spiritual prisons of sin, break the chains of Satan and the years he has held us in cruel bondage ––Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed (John 8:36).