Many of us have heard of the terrible plight of Rev. Saeed Abedini, the American pastor who was sentenced in late January to eight years in the notorious Iranian Evin prison for his Christian faith. Press reports indicate that Pastor Abedini is being beaten and tortured in prison, as well as being subjected to psychological abuse. Further, he is being denied regular access to his family. Missions group Asia Harvest denounced his sentence in a statement on their website:
He was convicted on charges of starting house churches throughout Iran in the early 2000s. Friends, an eight-year prison sentence in that demonic prison is basically a death sentence. Many people who go into Evin Prison only last a few days or weeks before they perish.
An appeal in his case has been filed in Iran. However, as you can readily imagine, Iranian appellate courts lack any semblance of substantive due process and justice, and are typically a rubber stamp of the initial unjust trial. The trial and incarceration have been emotionally devastating for Pastor Abedini and his family. But according to his wife, Naghmeh, “Saeed had great peace and joy and was able to share that he was united with other believers and they were praying every night and have seen much fruit! This situation has caused great boldness in the body of Christ in Iran and even outside of Iran.”
In addition to praying for Pastor Abedini and his family (he has two young children), if you, and/or your Sunday School group, or small group, or your parish and church wish to send Pastor Abedini a short note of encouragement, the address to the Evin prison is as follows:
Pastor Saeed Abedini
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
People might ask me, what if the cards and letters never get to Pastor Abedini. Even if Pastor Abedini never sees your cards, they will get to the prison offices, and will be read and summarized for their superiors. I am reminded of the powerful words of Irina Ratushinskaia, the Christian poet who was imprisoned in the former Soviet Union for her Christian faith. She wrote that during her time in solitary confinement:
I had the physical sense of being prayed for. Even when I knew nothing and received no letters, I felt warmth as if sitting near a fire. Sometimes this happened in punishment cells, which are very cold. It was like hearing someone pray for me and think about me. This supported us much. It is difficult to explain . . . We felt and knew we were not forgotten. This was sufficient to make us resist the most difficult moments.
For most of us, I suspect that it will only be in eternity that we will learn how our small encouragement in writing to Pastor Abedini, and our prayers on his behalf, meant to him and his family.