Voice of the Persecuted organization has started a new project to encourage the Abedini family.
Brothers and sisters in Christ,
Our sister, Naghmeh Abedini and her husband Saeed, suffer in the name of Christ because they’ve been asked. Willingly. The ups and downs and hopes and heartbreaks they’ve had to face through all of this I find impossible to comprehend. Perseverance reigns. Faith ebbs not. Inspired I am, over and over again.
Recent news brought more good news not …
Facebook update: April 6
No political prisoners were on the list of 920 that are being released for Iranian New Year. Saeed will not be released as part of the New Year pardons. This is heart breaking for the kids and I.
I will not give up fighting for my husband’s release. I will continue to fix my eyes on Jesus the author and perfector of our faith. Trusting in Jesus and His timing and His Goodness.
Our family would appreciate your continued prayers.
Love you all
… and a birthday missed.
Happy Birthday to my sweet husband. It is so difficult not having you with us to celebrate this special day that you were born, but we are so proud of you for standing up for your faith in Jesus and not wavering.
Know that you have so many brothers and sisters around the world praying for your release. May this be the last birthday that you are apart from the kids and I.
I imagine the Abedini’s, usually thousands of miles apart, find themselves asking God more than a little “Why us Lord? What is this all for? I know that one day, this will all make sense. Lord knows You move in mysterious ways. Help us a little more with the why of this please. It is difficult to get through some of these days.”
Purpose, a life so driven, satiates the soul. Do you have an Abedini related testimony, epiphany, lesson learned, a challenge to consider … a story to tell that could be a source of encouragement to them, one another and a Kingdom advanced in this life not only the next?
I reached out to Naghmeh with a little unsolicited political advice earlier this year. An education in the art of diplomacy I had in mind. She responded. I got schooled. I wrote up my Abedini testimony and submitted it for publication widely (conservative and liberal MSM, alternative secular, Christian, evangelical, religious…). Nothing (until VOP). You’ll find it below.
“The Rest of the Story (or at least a bit of it) Initiative” starts today. Send VOP your testimonies. We’ll collect them, post periodically (perhaps light editing) and save them for what will become a gift to the Abedini’s when this is no more. Pastor Saeed and his family know they stand not alone. They may not know what their expressions of great faith have meant to us all along.
Shall we let them know? Shall we kick up our levels of support a notch?
Testimony Story #1
The Rest of the Story (or at least a bit of it)
Stephen V. Anderson
Author’s Note: I wrote this in January and it doesn’t include references to more recent events.
The American evangelical pastor Saeed Abedini has been held hostage (arrested, tried, convicted, sentenced) by the regime of President Hassan Rouhani of Iran for practicing his faith and “undermining the national security of Iran for working with Christian house churches” for over a year and a half despite wide spread calls for his release from … just about everyone. The evangelical blogosphere has nearly daily posts and calls for justice, those in the mainstream media provide regular updates,national figures such as Senator Mark Rubio and Donald Trump remind lest we forget, the European Parliament passed a resolution urging Iran to release Abedini in Octoberand the U.S. Congress has held hearings on the Obama administration’s efforts (or lack thereof) to secure his release — twice.
Why won’t President Rouhani let Pastor Saeed Abedini go? Why should he? The games diplomacy and stature both home and abroad are games he’s winning and incentives to change what is are few — if any.
I reached out to Pastor Saeed’s wife Naghmeh in December with a little unsolicited advice. Seventeen months of scant progress and “Even after President Obama raised Pastor Saeed’s case directly to the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani,” a strategic effort advanced by her counsel at the American Center for Law and Justice, “Iran responded not by releasing Saeed but by transferring him to an even worse prison” might indicate the need for a different approach. I offered a few thoughts from the school Realpolitik. Power reigns (real and perceived). “Isms” blind.
Exhibit A: Need a little boost to enhance one’s position in the world of Islam? Care for a little respect? Give the alarmists an excuse to be again aghast (move to tougher prison, refuse requests to provide medical treatment, say nothing …). Relief comes in the form of: President’s betray and abandon their own; Pastor Saeed Abedini has been left for dead (by the President of the United States); blogosphere’s explode, backchannels once become not, efforts to negotiate release become undermined and the only thing Rouhani has to do is to sit back, relax and “feel the love.”
Exhibit B: “The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) … announced today (December 19, 2012) it is representing the wife of an Iranian-American pastor who is being held in an Iranian prison because of his Christian faith.” The strategic effort “quiet diplomacy” undermined on Day 1.
… about those lessons from the school Realpolitik?
She responded. I got schooled.
NAGHMEH: Thank you for your feedback Stephen. I see your point. But the one thing that I have continually been led to do is to refuse to be silent in the face of evil and to speak out in the face of injustice. I know that I have to do my part. The rest is up to God. God is a God of justice and He does not ask us to stay silent because of fear of evil men and what they might do. WE are to speak out in face of injustice. Many people who fought for human rights and made the world a better place spoke out and were imprisoned (Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr. …) and did not fear their lives. They were fighting for a bigger purpose. It is not right that religious minorities and Christians are killed and tortured every year in the Middle East simply because of their faith. Someone has to speak out. It might cost me and my family our life. But I refuse to keep silent in the face of evil. Silence in the face of evil is evil itself. So, I will use every platform I have to speak out.*
STEVE: That is a statement of faith upon which no Christian in this world can disagree and I am humbled by the strength of your faith and the weakness of mine. Your love for Christ is evident and the willingness to sacrifice it all in His name is a testimony … I cannot find the words.
I was concerned and the note I sent you was from the game Realpolitik not life everlasting.
NAGHMEH: I know that our situation has also been used for politics. But that has never been my purpose. I have somehow been tangled up in politics, but my main point has been not to be controlled by fear and to speak out. This is something the Lord put in my heart last year.
Naghmeh’s story has been broadcast widely but her testimony has not. Most, if not all (Christian, evangelical, mainstream and mainstream not) have been interpreting these events through the lens of politics (mea culpa) and many are attempting to use these events for political gain (mea culpa again). “I was blind, now I see!” It does not concern her and it no longer concerns me for this is not about politics. It’s about the miracle of salvation and the assurance that with Christ none are captive — all are free!
Thank you Naghmeh, “I was blind, now I see.”
*Naghmeh Abedini has permitted her shared remarks.
Join in this project to let the Abedini’s know how they have inspired or renewed your faith. Each testimony will be a source of encouragement to them and the Body of Christ. When the family is reunited we will gather the stories to be published in a book and presented to the family as an appreciation for their steadfast faith. Together, we will be able to provide a little insight into how God has worked through them to be a blessing to more than they realize. Add your testimony below. If your church has been active in praying for this persecuted family, inform them of this special mission so they too can share their thoughts and be an encouragement. For every testimony received the VOP prayer team will specifically lift up each individual and pray for a strengthening of their steadfast faith. Thank you in advance and may God bless you.
By Steve Anderson, Project Leader
BY CLICKING THE PICTURE BELOW YOU CAN SHARE YOUR TESTIMONY TO ENCOURAGE AND UPLIFT THIS PERSECUTED FAMILY.
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