Mass executions taking toll, Saeed Abedini's wife says

by Joni B. Hannigan , Editorial Staff |

(FACEBOOK/Naghmeh Abedini)

BOISE, Idaho (Christian Examiner) -- Mass executions in her husband's Iranian prison are taking a "toll" on Saeed Abedni, his wife said in an April 15 Facebook update.

The update came after his father was finally allowed to visit him -- following five long weeks of no visitation -- Naghmed Abedini said in asking for continued prayer for the Christian pastor imprisoned because of his faith.

"Knowing that he is not forgotten and believers around the world continue to remember him in prayer and advocate for him has encouraged him to continue in this difficult journey and to hold on to hope," she said, thanking readers for continued prayers.

Naghmed Abedeni said Easter week had been "quite difficult" with attacks from hardliners, guards and others -- who have told him he will "never" be released and instead, additional charges will keep him imprisoned.

"They continually threaten Saeed that the only key to his freedom is denying Christ and returning to Islam," Abedeni said. "Saeed refuses to deny Christ and continues to be a light and witness in that dark prison."

Despite the attacks and the threat of executions at Rajayee Shahr prison, the pastor reported "the Lord continues to move in that prison and lives are being transformed."

"[T]hey had a great Easter in prison celebrati[ng] our Savior's resurrection," Abadeni shared. "Saeed desperately missed being with our family on Easter, but new Easter traditions were created in prison."

Saeed Abedini converted to Christianity in 2000 while he still lived in Tehran. Two years later, he met and married his wife Naghmeh, an American citizen. He is said to have established 100 house churches in 30 Iranian cities with more than 2,000 members before moving with her to the United States in 2005. He was granted U.S. citizenship in 2010, while also maintaining his citizenship in Iran.

Pastor Saeed Abedini in this undated file photo.

Since 2009, he had traveled regularly back to his home country to visit family and to build a government approved orphanage in the city of Rasht.

Iranian Revolutionary Guards arrested him at his parents' home in Tehran during a 2012 visit, and he was imprisoned on charges of starting churches -- a religious activity banned since 2005.

In her Facebook post April 15, Naghmeh Abedini notes the "journey has truly become more difficult and painful for Saeed and for the kids and I" before signing off, "God bless you all."

The couple has two young children, 7-year-old Jacob, and 9-year-old Rebekka.

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