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U.S. pastor sentenced to 8 years in Iranian prison

Dr. Jim Denison is the CEO of Denison Forum.
His Daily Article and podcast globally reach over 160,000 subscribers. Dr. Denison guides readers to discern today’s news—biblically. He is the author of multiple books and has taught on the philosophy of religion and apologetics at several seminaries. Prior to launching Denison Forum in 2009, he pastored churches in Texas and Georgia. He holds a Ph.D and a Master of Divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Jim and his wife, Janet, live in Dallas, Texas. They have two sons and four grandchildren.

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Iranian-American Pastor Saeed Abedini with his wife, Naghmeh, and their two children at Disney (Credit: Naghmeh Abedini via Facebook)

Saeed Abedini has been sent to one of the world’s most brutal prisons.  He was born in Iran; his parents still live there.  He and his family make their home in Boise, Idaho, but he will likely spend the next eight years of his life in Evin prison.

“To many Iranians, the concept of Evin prison is synonymous with political repression and torture,” according to one expert.  The facility is home to an estimated 15,000 inmates, including killers, thieves, and rapists.  The bare feet of those being interrogated are often lashed with cables; many are held in solitary confinement for months or even years.

One prisoner spent 15 months with 60 inmates in a cell designed for five or six people.  Mock executions are held, where the prisoner is made to stand before a firing squad and then pulled away at the last moment.  This horrific place has been Pastor Abedini’s residence since September, where he has been beaten and tortured.  Now it is likely to be his home for the next eight years.

The pastor and his wife converted from Islam to Christianity 13 years ago.  He was ordained a minister in 2008 and began a ministry in Iran.  Last summer, he was on a bus that was crossing from Turkey into Iran.  Immigration officials seized his passport and put him under house arrest.  In September he was sent to Evin prison, and has now been convicted of attempting to undermine the government.

The American Center for Law and Justice is representing his wife and two children (ages six and four).  Its executive director states: “This is a real travesty—a mockery of justice.  From the very beginning, Iranian authorities have lied about all aspects of this case.”  The U.S. State Department adds, “We condemn Iran’s continued violation of the universal right of freedom of religion and we call on the Iranian authorities to respect Mr. Abedini’s human rights and release him.”  His wife is appealing for help: “We must now pursue every effort, turn every rock, and not stop until Saeed is safely on American soil.”

What can we do?  First, we can ask our senators and other leaders to do all that can be done on the pastor’s behalf.  Yesterday I wrote to one of our senators with such a request, and encourage you to do the same.  “Pray1Tim2” is a ministry I recommend; its interactive map will help you contact your state leaders.

Second, we can call on other Christians to join us in interceding for Pastor Abedini and his wife.  When King Herod imprisoned Peter, intending to execute him, “the church was earnestly praying to God for him” (Acts 12:5).  The result: an angel freed the apostle from his chains and led him out of the prison (vs. 7-10).  Peter went on to write two books of the New Testament and pastor the church in Rome.

It’s always too soon to give up on God.

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