Persecuted for his faith in Jesus Christ; Pastor Saeed Abedini, a US Citizen, has languished in prison for three long years. In 2012, he was taken to the infamous Evin prison but is now being held in Rajael Shar; one of the most horrendous prisons known in Iran. His devoted wife Naghmeh, his children Rebekka and Jacob, along with family and friends are one strong voice; calling out for his freedom through continuous campaigns. Christian’s worldwide have kept up with news on his ongoing plight. They have offered Saeed’s family their support, prayers and encouragement in their ongoing fight and struggle for his release.
In January of this year, President Obama visited Naghmeh’s hometown of Boise, Idaho, to give his State of the Union address. Nahgmeh, whose ‘heart had leaped with hope’ of the opportunity to meet with him, thought it might be possible for Saeed to be released as part of the important ongoing peace talks with Iranian President Hassan Rou Hani. Miraculously, she had at least a ten minute meeting with the President who promised Saeed’s release was a top priority. Taken with a pinch of salt, not much has happened to date.
Pastor Saeed Abedini seems to be forgotten. He has definitely slipped the minds of many, including the President of the United States. Well, amongst the important papers on his prominent presidential desk, perhaps Saeed’s freedom is on the bottom of the pile while peace talks with a nuclear Iran is on the top? I ask you, can there really be peace talks between a terrorist regime that shouts ‘Death to America’ and ‘Death to Israel’ and holds on to an age old ‘We shall rule the world mentality’? Before I get carried away with that insanity, let us get back to Pastor Saeed.
Heaven knows thousands, if not millions of postcards and letters addressed to the White House, from vigilant American citizens, should have helped jog the presidential memory and brought Saeed’s face to mind?
These postcards and letters have continued to raise deep concerned for Saeed, a tortured, imprisoned pastor. With all due respect Mr. President have you forgotten someone? I guess it is hard to remember someone in prison when you are in the White House, more like a presidential palace! Somewhat sarcastic, I know, but this, ‘bury your head in the sand’ President has a bad track record of leaving our abducted fellow Americans citizens in harm’s way. Saeed, along with many others, have been left to be brutalized and often killed by our enemies, when the American motto is, “no man left behind”.
Between these two political leaders, in their open discussions on sanctions and weaponry, the president has failed to use his powerful positon to secure Saeed’s release and bring an end to his suffering. He has been left behind. Is he just a forgotten part of this disastrous bargain?
Being that I am not a politician, I really do not understand why? The Obama administration was quite able to bargain for army deserter Bowe Bergdahl, interestingly another Idaho resident. They made a decision to swap the infamous ‘Taliban Five’ for the native Idaho soldier. The President ironically stated, “He was never forgotten.” All this has left most American’s thinking, “On whose side are you on anyway Mr. President?”
Despite all this unfairness, we can all take comfort in God’s sovereignty from lessons in Joseph’s life. He also became a forgotten prisoner. He went from being: the beloved favorite son of Jacob, to being thrown into a pit by his older brothers, pronounced dead to his father, sold into slavery, and finally ended up in the house of Potiphar in Egypt. Potiphar’s passion crazed wife with unchecked lust tried to seduce Joseph. He made a stand for his faith and in the fear of the Lord said, “. . . How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God.” Unyielding and escaping the scenario he ended as an innocent man being thrown in prison all because he stood unwavering in his faith.
His suffering is described in Psalm 105:18: They hurt his feet with fetters, he was laid in irons. One fellow prisoner, the chief butler, promised to mention his name, but forgot it says in Genesis 40:23: Yet the chief butler did not remember Joseph, but forgot him. Joseph was left in prison for another two years!
He was remembered and released only in God’s sovereign time and for God’s purposes in a time of great famine. Genesis 50:20: But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive. Saeed’s imprisonment has a God given sovereign purpose.
Even though Saeed may be forgotten by some people, others will truly never forget. To commemorate his three torturous years in prison, Nahgmeh has requested not only for her husband to be remembered and prayed for, but for all “witnesses” of the gospel that are being killed or imprisoned.
On September 26, at 11:00 a.m. our church will host a prayer vigil, along with many other churches across the United States. We will pray for our forgetful President, pray for Pastor Saeed and pray for all other persecuted Christians worldwide. Let us never be guilty of forgetting our persecuted Christian comrades.
But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me, and that all the Gentiles might hear. Also I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen!
2 Timothy 4:17-18
~Paul, a Prisoner of the Gospel of Jesus Christ~