Abedini’s 6-year-old son asks President of the United States: ‘Please bring daddy home’ by March birthday

Obama To Imprisoned Pastor's Wife: Saving Saeed Abedini in Iran Is 'A Top Priority'
Courtesy of ACLJ
Today’s #SaveSaeed rally at Boise State University.

Hours after giving his seventh State of the Union address, President Barack Obama met in person with Naghmeh Abedini, an Idaho mother who has spent more than two years advocating for the freedom of her husband, Iranian-American pastor Saeed Abedini, jailed in Iran.

More than 100,000 people had signed a petition, sponsored by the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), asking the President to let Naghmeh make a “personal appeal for her husband” during his visit today to Boise, Idaho. Obama met privately with her and her two children for about 10 minutes.

“I am extremely thankful the President took the time to meet with our family and told us that securing the release of my husband is a top priority,” said Naghmeh Abedini, according to an ACLJ statement. “The President was focused and gracious—showing concern to me and my children. I know that this meeting could not have occurred without prayer, and I am grateful to the many people around the country and world who continue to pray for Saeed’s release.

“The President repeated his desire to do all that he can to bring Saeed home. That means the world to me and my children and has given me a renewed sense of hope,” she said.

According to the ACLJ [full statement below]:

Naghmeh told the President that her son, Jacob, had something to ask him. Jacob asked: “Mr. President, can you please bring daddy home for my birthday?” The President responded, “When is your birthday?” Jacob told him March 17th, when he will turn seven. The President said he will try very hard to bring his father home.

After hearing last Friday that Obama would be traveling to Boise, where Naghmeh lives with the couple’s two children, she requested a meeting. “Such a meeting would go a long way in instilling faith that the leader of our country considers our sufferings important and that you are committed to reuniting our family,” Naghmeh wrote to Obama. The President had previously expressed concern for Saeed’s fate during a 2013 phone call with Hassan Rouhani, leader of Iran.

Since Saeed was first imprisoned in 2012, his release has also been requested by Billy Graham, Secretary of State John Kerry, and the United Nations.

A convert from Islam to Christianity, Saeed made frequent trips to Iran and had been warned by the Muslim nation against his involvement with house churches; instead, he had returned to continue building a government-approved orphanage. While there, Saeed was pulled off a bus, charged with undermining national security, and sentenced to eight years in prison, which has resulted in torture and pressure to recant.

“Pastor Saeed has become the face of the persecuted Christian church worldwide, one of many Christians around the world who face imprisonment, beatings and even death for their faith,” said Jordan Sekulow, ACLJ’s executive director.

Abedini is only one of at least 60 Christians in Iran—which contains between 200,000 and 750,000 Christians—currently in prison, according to Middle East Concern (MEC). Their plight was named one of the top 10 persecution stories of 2014 by Morning Star News.

Recently, several especially troubling charges against Iranian church leaders have been dropped.

In August, a pastor in the Church of Iran denomination was charged with “enmity against God,” which can carry the death sentence. He and two other Church of Iran leaders were also charged with “spreading corruption on Earth,” which also carries the death sentence. Weeks later, the charges were downgraded to “action against national security” and “creating a network to overthrow the System.” Last month, after two of the men were acquitted, charges were dropped against the third. All the men have been released.

Open Doors International ranked Iran seventh in its 2015 watch list of countries where it’s hardest to be a Christian.

Full press release from ACLJ:

ACLJ: PRESIDENT OBAMA TELLS WIFE OF AMERICAN PASTOR IMPRISONED IN IRAN THAT SECURING HIS RELEASE IS “A TOP PRIORITY”

(Washington, DC) – The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), which is working to secure the release of American Pastor Saeed Abedini from an Iranian prison, said today a private face-to-face meeting between President Obama and American Pastor Saeed Abedini’s wife, Naghmeh, and their children elevates Pastor Saeed’s plight on the world stage and should send a powerful message to the Iranians: it is time to release this U.S. citizen so he can return home to his family.

President Obama met with Naghmeh and her two young children, 6-year-old Jacob and 8-year-old Rebekka during a stop in the Abedini’s hometown of Boise, Idaho.

“I am extremely thankful the President took the time to meet with our family and told us that securing the release of my husband is a top priority,” said Naghmeh Abedini. “The President was focused and gracious – showing concern to me and my children. I know that this meeting could not have occurred without prayer and I am grateful to the many people around the country and world who continue to pray for Saeed’s release. The President repeated his desire to do all that he can to bring Saeed home. That means the world to me and my children and has given me a renewed sense of hope.”

The private meeting, which lasted about ten minutes, occurred in an office at Boise State University, just moments before the President addressed an audience about education.

“We’re grateful that President Obama took the time to meet with Naghmeh and speak with her and the children,” said Jordan Sekulow, Executive Director of the ACLJ, which represents Naghmeh and her two children. “Pastor Saeed has been wrongly imprisoned for nearly two and a half years. He has been separated from his wife and children. The pain experienced by the Abedini family is impossible to imagine. The meeting between President Obama and the Abedini family is a very welcomed development. It demonstrates the President’s concern and compassion for this family. It also underscores the importance of Pastor Saeed’s case, a U.S. citizen imprisoned in Iran merely because of his Christian faith. The face-to-face meeting elevates Pastor Saeed’s plight on the world stage – and should send a powerful message to the Iranians – it is time to release Pastor Saeed so he can return home to his family.”

Regarding the meeting, Naghmeh said President Obama entered the room, greeted the children and immediately told her that securing the release of Pastor Saeed was a top priority for him. He recalled the phone call he had some time ago with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and told Naghmeh that Saeed was part of that conversation. The President reiterated that bringing Saeed home is a top priority for him.

Naghmeh told the President that she prays for him often. The President smiled when Naghmeh told him that she had refrained from food and had fasted for days praying that God would grant this meeting with him – and that the meeting itself was the result of that prayer.

Naghmeh told the President that she knows that he cares about families and that the face-to-face meeting with the President reflected the care and concern he has for the Abedini family.

Naghmeh told the President that her son, Jacob, had something to ask him. Jacob asked: “Mr. President, can you please bring daddy home for my birthday?” The President responded, “When is your birthday?” Jacob told him March 17th, when he will turn seven. The President said he will try very hard to bring his father home.

The meeting between the President and the Abedinis occurred after more than 100,000 people signed on to an ACLJ letter urging President Obama to meet with the family. Pastor Saeed’s two young children – Jacob and Rebekka – have recorded a personal plea asking President Obama to bring their father home. That video is available here.

The ACLJ continues to work in this country and abroad to secure the safety and freedom of Pastor Saeed, a U.S. citizen who has been imprisoned in Iran for nearly two and a half years merely because of his Christian faith.

 

SOURCE: Christianity Today


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Since 2013, Christian news magazine The Olive Branch Report has featured the insightful writing and reporting of Greg Holt. His writing has been featured on American Prophet, American Clarion, Eagle Rising, Capitol Hill Outsider, Sons of Liberty Media, Rev. Austin Miles, and others. Greg is also the Publisher and Editor of Inspirational Christian Blogs.

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