Pastor Jailed in Iran for Planting House Churches

7 Mar

Below is an article from the Barnabas Fund (29.01.2013) about an Iranian-American pastor who  has been jailed for eight years in Iran for planting house churches “intended to undermine national security”. 

An appropriate read during our Philippians sermon series.

Pastor Saeed Abedeni
“The pastor was arrested last September while visiting his homeland, where he has been trying to establish an orphanage. The charges against Saeed relate to his work in starting a house-church movement following his conversion from Islam to Christianity in 2000. Saeed Abedeni (32), who hails from Iran but is now a US citizen, was sentenced on Sunday (27 January) following a trial last week. His lawyer will appeal the ruling.

The judicial authorities in Iran have made repeated promises to release Saeed but these have proven hollow; a bail payment of approximately US$330,000 was previously demanded. After Saeed’s trial, his lawyer indicated that he expected the pastor to be freed in a matter of days.

Saeed’s wife Naghmeh said:

The promise of his release was a lie. We should not trust the empty words or promises put out by the Iranian government. These false hopes amount to psychological torture. You don’t want to trust them, but they build a glimmer of hope before the crushing blow… I am devastated for my husband and my family. We must now pursue every effort, turn every rock, and not stop until Saeed is safely on American soil.

The pastor’s detention has sparked a major campaign in the US, where more than 235,000 people have signed a petition by the American Center for Law and Justice, which is representing Saeed’s family. Following criticism about their failure to intervene, the US State Department and the White House have condemned Iran for imprisoning the pastor and have called for his release.

Saeed has been held in the notorious Evin Prison in Tehran, where he has been subjected to beatings, torture and threats.

Saeed became a US citizen in 2010 following marriage to his American wife in 2002. The couple have a 6-year-old daughter and a 4-year-old son; they live in Idaho.

He has returned to Iran with his family on several occasions over the past few years to visit relatives and continue his ministry. Saeed has been instrumental in leading many Muslims to Christ and establishing a number of house churches in Iran. “

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