This week is the annual session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York City, or as political commentator Mark Steyn refers to it, Dictators’ Week.  Among the many illustrious guests to visit our nation is the new president of Iran, the Honorable Hassan Rouhani, often referred to as a “moderate.”  In an act of nobless oblige, on the eve of his visit to New York, President Rouhani released eleven prisoners. However, during the past several months, at least twenty Christians have been arrested for their beliefs in the Lord Jesus Christ.  Among those twenty, Ebrahim was arrested for conducting online Christian activities.  In addition, two other Christian believers, Masoud and Sevada, were arrested during a raid at Masoud’s workplace. Ebrahim and Masoud are both believers from Moslem backgrounds, and Sevada is an Armenian Christian.  Nine other Christians were arrested in two police raids on prayer meetings. Further, eight other Christians from Moslem backgrounds were arrested under charges of Christian evangelism, disturbing public order, and threatening national security.  However, among those released in conjunction with President Rouhani’s trip to the United States were two Christian women: Maryam Jalili and Mitra Rahmati, both former Moslems.  First arrested in 2009 during a police raid on a house church, they were not released until March 2010.  In April 2011, they were arrested again and convicted in December 2011 of belong to an “illegal group.”  They were coming to the end of their 30-month sentence when they were released.

Among those not released was Pastor Saeed Abedini, the American pastor sentenced to 8 years in Iran’s notorious Evin Prison.  You will recall that Pastor Abedini was convicted for his Christian faith.  At the Evin Prison, Pastor Abedini has been severely beaten and told that he “will hang” for his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  The beatings have caused sustained internal bleeding and other medical complications, and prison authorities have refused to treat Pastor Abedini.  On these pages, I wrote that Pastor Abedini’s appeal was denied last month.  He has now written a letter to President Rouhani asking for his freedom.  Here is the text of the translated letter that Pastor Abedini wrote to the Mr. Rouhani.

On September 26th, people from all over the world will come together to pray for Pastor Abedini, and others persecuted for their Christian faith around the world.  To find out whether there is a prayer vigil you can attend, please visit http://savesaeed.org/vigil.

Although President Obama in his United Nations speech on Tuesday stated that he welcomed the new Iranian government’s pursuit of a “more moderate course,” the Obama Administration and the U.S. State Department have been extraordinarily slow to advocate for Pastor Abedini, an American citizen wrongly languishing in the squalor of an Iranian jail. Please pray for the Christians suffering under the unjust authoritarian rule of the mullahs of Iran.  Please pray for Pastor Abedini, and for his wife and children as they await his return.  Please pray also for the families of the Christian prisoners of Iran, and especially the spouses who often struggle under great pressure from the institutions of influence to force them to recant their Christian faith, or simply to abandon their imprisoned spouse.  Finally, please pray that the bright light of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ continues to spread throughout the spiritual darkness of Iran.  Miracles are occurring daily in Iran, and no repressive regime can halt the advance of God’s love and mercy.