Beatings and torture making me a “godly man” – jailed pastor in Iran

January 24, 2013 by  
Filed under newsletter-asia

Saeed Abedeni with his two childrenIran, January 22, 2013: A pastor beaten and tortured in jail for his Christian activities in Iran has said such sufferings “only make you a man of steel” for expanding Christ’s Kingdom.

Saeed Abedeni (32), who is now a US citizen, was arrested last September while visiting his nativeIran. He is standing trial this week before one of the country’s most notorious “hanging judges” on charges of compromising national security. Court documents reveal that the charges are a pretext for Saeed’s work in starting a house church movement in 2000 following his conversion from Islam to Christianity.

He became a US citizen in 2010 after marrying an American woman, Naghmeh. The couple live with their two children in Idaho. Saeed, who was ordained as a minister in 2008, has returned toIran with his family on several occasions over the past few years to visit relatives and continue his ministry.

Saeed has been detained since his arrest last September; he has endured beatings, torture and threats at the notorious Evin Prison in Tehran. In a moving letter to his wife, published last week, Saeed wrote about his ordeal:

One day I am told I will be freed and allowed to see my kids on Christmas (which was a lie) and the next day I am told I will hang for my faith in Jesus. One day there are intense pains after beatings in interrogations, the next day they are nice to you and offer you candy.

Saeed reflected on how God is transforming him through these mixed experiences:

I always wanted God to make me a godly man. I did not realise that in order to become a godly man we need to become like steel under pressure. It is a hard process of warm and cold to make steel. These hot and colds only make you a man of steel for moving forward in expanding His Kingdom.

Saeed had been trained by Hezbollah to become a suicide bomber and was deeply depressed before his remarkable conversion to Christianity. He was transformed into a fearless evangelist and has been instrumental in leading many Muslims to Christ and establishing a number of house churches in Iran.

Prior to his arrest last September, Saeed had been detained twice by the Iranian authorities during visits to the country. On the first occasion, in 2009, he was interrogated about his conversion to Christianity and warned against continuing with his house church activities; the second arrest happened while he was working on an orphanage project last July.

The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has called for Saeed’s immediate and unconditional release. Chairman Katrina Lantos Swett said:

The national security charges leveled against Mr. Abedini are bogus and are a typical tactic by the Iranian government to masquerade the real reason for the charges: to suppress religious belief and activity of which the Iranian government does not approve.

The United States does not have diplomatic relations with Iran. The State Department is said to have done little to help secure Saeed’s freedom.

– barnabas team

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