Tuesday, November 12, 2013


Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right. 1 Peter 4:19

This past Sunday Brother Van preached on persecution.  There are many Christians around the world who are seriously persecuted for the stand they take for Christ.  Some are even killed.  The devotionals for the rest of the week are going to focus on Christians who are imprisoned for their faith.  Read their stories and pray for them and their families.

 Saeed Abedini is an Iranian American Christian pastor imprisoned in Iran. He has been detained in Iran since the summer of 2012 and incarcerated in Evin Prison since September 2012. On January 27, 2013, he was sentenced to eight years in prison, reportedly on charges of undermining national security through his Christian evangelical activities in Iran in the early 2000s.

Abedini is a former Muslim who converted to Christianity in 2000.  While Christianity is recognized as a minority religion under the Iranian constitution, Muslim converts to Christianity suffer discrimination at the hands of Iranian authorities.  In particular, such converts are disallowed from worshipping with other Christians in established Christian churches, which has led to the establishment of so-called "house" or "underground" churches where these converts can worship together.

In 2002, Abedini met and married his wife Naghmeh, an American citizen.  In the early 2000s, the Abedinis became prominent in the house church movement in Iran, at a time when the movement was tolerated by the Iranian government.  During this period, Abedini is credited with establishing about 100 house churches in 30 Iranian cities with more than 2,000 members.  With the election of Mahmoud Ahmedinejad in 2005, however, the house church movement was subjected to a crackdown by Iranian authorities and the Abedinis moved back to the United States.
Abedini's first trip back to Iran was in 2009 to visit his family, when government authorities detained him.  According to Abedini, he was threatened with death during his interrogation over his conversion to Christianity.  Ultimately he was released after signing an agreement in which he pledged to cease all house church activities in the country.

In 2008, Abedini became an ordained minister in the U.S. and in 2010, he was granted American citizenship, thus becoming a dual Iranian-American citizen.  Abedini had been living the past several years with his family in Boise, Idaho, where his wife grew up.  The couple has two children and they are members of the Calvary Chapel church

In July 2012, Abedini made his ninth trip to Iran since 2009 to visit his family and continue his work to build an orphanage in the city of Rasht.  While in the country, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps confiscated his passports and placed him under house arrest.  He was later transferred to Evin Prison, where he has been incarcerated since late September.

In mid-January 2013, it was reported that Abedini would go on trial on January 21, and could face the death penalty.  He was charged with compromising national security, though the specific allegations were not made public.  His supporters said his arrest was due to his conversion and efforts to spread Christianity in Iran.  On January 21, 2013, Iranian state media reported that Abedini would be released after posting a $116,000 bond.  His wife, however, stated that the government "has no intention of freeing him and that the announcement is 'a game to silence' international media reports."
On January 27, 2013, Judge Pir-Abassi sentenced Abedini to eight years in prison.  According to Fox News, Abedini was sentenced for having "undermined the Iranian government by creating a network of Christian house churches and ... attempting to sway Iranian youth away from Islam."  The evidence against Abedini was based primarily on his activities in the early 2000s.

After spending more than a year locked up in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison, Iranian-American pastor Saeed Abedini was unexpectedly transferred to an even more dangerous prison Sunday, according to lawyers at the American Center for Law and Justice.

He was surrounded by political prisoners in Evin, but at the Rajai Shahr Prison, he’s reportedly stuck in a 10x10 cell with five inmates who were likely jailed for murder or rape. It’s the kind of place where prisoners simply disappear forever, said ACLJ’s executive director Jordan Sekulow.   “He could easily be killed not by formal execution but by a fellow inmate,” Sekulow told The News. “That’s why we are so concerned right now about his safety and survival.”

Pray for Iranian-American pastor Saeed Abedini’s life and freedom.

Deliver those who are being taken away to death, and those who are staggering to slaughter, Oh hold them back. If you say, "See, we did not know this," Does He not consider it who weighs the hearts? And does He not know it who keeps your soul? And will He not render to man according to his work? Proverbs 24:11-12  (NASB)

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