"I appreciate the work of Rev. Patrick Mahoney and the Christian Defense Coalition in being a voice and their efforts in bringing Saeed home. The Christian Defense Coalition has been one of our greatest support as they have prayed alongside our family and have been a powerful voice for Saeed whose voice is being silenced in the Iranian prison because of his Christian Faith."--Naghmeh Abedini. The wife of Pastor Saeed.
On September 26, 2012 Pastor Saeed Abedini, an Iranian born American citizen, was jailed in Iran and thrown into one of the worst prisons in the world. He has a wonderful wife, Naghmeh, and two precious young children who live in Boise, Idaho.
His crime? He was jailed for his Christian faith and working to build an orphanage in Iran which he had permission to build from the Iranian government.
For his Christian faith, Pastor Saeed was given an incredibly harsh 8 year prison sentence. He faces constant beatings, torture, violence and severe mental and emotional abuse along with serious medical issues that Iranian doctors refuse to treat because he is considered "unclean."
Pastor Saeed has become the "Face of the Persecuted Church" around the world and a symbol for religious freedom and human rights.
Over the past year, I have prayed and worked closely with Naghmeh organizing events here in Washington, D.C. and speaking out with passion across the nation calling for the release of Saeed and ending worldwide religious persecution.
Concerning the issue of our persecuted brothers and sisters and religious freedom, we can never be silent or indifferent. As the great Pastor and Martyr, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, stated;
“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”
In light of this, I am involved with Naghmeh as she is putting together almost 50 (and growing) prayer vigils and demonstrations across America and around the world in support of the release of Pastor Saeed and embracing religious freedom on September 26.
These events will draw worldwide press attention to plight of Pastor Saeed and the persecuted church and keep the global spotlight on Iran.
I will be leading the prayer vigil and demonstration in front of the White House, here in Washington, D.C.
Then on September 28, I will be leaving for Turkey/Iran for 7-10 days on a Mission attempting to free Pastor Saeed! Since the "Hostage Crisis" in 1979, the United States has not had formal diplomatic relations with Iran. So, I have to meet with the Iranian Embassy in Turkey to secure entree in Iran to meet with government officials there.
Once in Tehran, my hope is to see Saeed and plead with the Iranian government for his release!
It is our feeling that the Holy Spirit is opening up a unique "Window of Opportunity" and we need to climb through it. Here are some the reasons we feel it is critical to do this mission now:
1. The attention of the press and news around the world will be focused on Pastor's Saeed during these vigils and demonstrations on September 26. My going to Turkey and attempting to get into Iran will continue to draw international press interest and keep the pressure on Iran, which is critical. We may never have this opportunity again.
2. With the recent election of President Rouhani, Iran is seeking to put on a "moderate" face to the world. Tehran is looking for ways to show the global community that they are changing, and the release of Pastor Saeed would clearly demonstrate that.
3. I would be traveling to Iran, not as representative of the United States government, but as a faith and religious leader. I would be speaking to President Rouhani, who is also a cleric, not through the language of politics but of faith. Many Christian who are Islamic experts, believe this innovative and creative approach would open new possibilities for Saeed's release.
4. Since I am not going as a representative of the United States government, it will give the Iranian the opportunity to release Pastor Saeed without appearing to cave in to American political pressure.
5. Finally, if you want to see a miracle, you have to create an environment and opportunity to God perform a miracle. We are creating such a situation for the Holy Spirit to move!
This entire mission will cost $7,500 for one person and $10,000 for two and will include things like: covering the costs of, airfare, housing, ground transportation, phone and communication costs and social networking. To put this context, many of our global projects incur phone and communication costs of over $2,500.
We are asking our Facebook friends to help with this GoFundme campaign. Since the Christian Defense Coalition is a small ministry and this mission came to "life so quickly," it was not in our planned budget. So we need you to be as generous and gracious as possible.
Of course the most important thing anyone can do is pray, and we ask you to join with us in believing that Pastor Saeed will soon be united with family! God is good. Faithful. And, always amazing!