One year ago today, American Pastor Saeed Abedini was incarcerated in Evin Prison in Iran - an institution known around the world for its ruthless and inhumane treatment of its inmates - because he refused to renounce his Christian faith. Although the White House, Secretary of State John Kerry and Billy Graham have appealed to Iranian president Hassan Rouhani for his release, he is still in prison.
Pastor Saeed traveled to Iran last year in order to get approval from the Iranian government to build a non-sectarian orphanage. Two days before he was to return home to Idaho, he was arrested and immediately put under house arrest for his faith and association with other believers. Not long after, he was sentenced to serve eight years in Evin Prison.
Much like Rev. Majed El Shafie, the Egyptian-born human rights leader and the founder of One Free World International, Abedini is being tortured and asked to deny his faith in Christ and return to Islam, according to his wife, Naghmeh. He's not only refusing to deny Christ in return for his freedom, he's also leading others prisoners to our Lord. "They've told him many times that they would free him and allow him to return to our family, the kids and I, if he would deny his Christian faith, and he's stood strong in that prison," his wife told students at Liberty University. "He's led many, many - over 30 people - to Christ in that prison."
An international petition demanding Pastor Saeed's release started by his family (with the help of the Be Heard Project and the ACLJ) has hundreds of thousands of signatures. Over 90,000 letters have been sent to President Rouhani asking for the same thing. Recently, Naghmeh Abedini personally delivered a letter pleading for her husband's release to Iranian President Rouhani after a chance meeting in New York. (President Rouhani is in the U.S. for his first UN meeting.) 7eventh Time Down is also helping to bring attention and awareness to his story through their music video for "Just Say Jesus," which features national news footage detailing his imprisonment and images of him and his family. Today, in honor of Pastor Saeed and his plight, prayer vigils are being held in the U.S., Brazil, the Czech Republic, the Dominican Republic, East Jerusalem, England, France, Germany, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Russia, Spain, Uganda and Zimbabwe.