Date: March 4, 2016
He also Disputes His Wife’s Marital Abuse Allegations
By Dan Wooding, Founder of ASSIST News Service
WASHINGTON, DC (ANS – March 4, 2016) -- It's been just over a month since Pastor Saeed Abedini’s release from an Iranian prison. Arrested in 2012, he faced years of torture and persecution behind bars.
Abedini, 35, a naturalized U.S. citizen, was sentenced by an Iranian court in 2013 to eight years in prison for allegedly compromising Iran’s national security by setting up home-based Christian churches there. He was arrested after returning to Iran for what was supposed to be a short trip to set up an orphanage.
Now Abedini has talked in depth about those horrors in an exclusive interview with CBN's Abigail Robertson. (http://www1.cbn.com/cbnnews/
“I felt in my spirit that some threat was coming,” Abedini said, following his tenth arrest in Iran.
“I thought maybe they’re going to kill us because I turned from Islam to Christianity, but [the] Holy Spirit was with me, and He encouraged me, and He prepared me for all the suffering I should go through,” he said.
Abedini says that he used the time to reach out and minister to those around him.
“Ten of the prisoners turned to Christ the first year, so the prison found out, the intelligence police found out, and they moved me to another prison where the situation was worse,” he explained. “Every time they changed my prison, it was a good time to evangelize.”
But, he discovered that preaching God’s Word came with consequences.
“Every people [sic] who became Christian with me, they start torturing them, separate me from them and the last two years they make me completely isolated,” he recalled.
Asked if there were ever a time when he didn't know if he’d make it back to America, he responded, “You know the first six months they always threaten me to death and they said, ‘For sure you're going to be executed for what you did -- you made 1,000 Muslim Christians.’”
“But every time that I prayed, [the] Holy Spirit put in my heart, ‘No, still I have some work to do for you,’” he said.
After three-and-a-half years, Pastor Abedini has finally come home to what he says is a very different America than the one he left.
“It seems that they found out that something needs to be changed, there is something wrong,” he told CBN News. “I believe that God wants to bring revival back to America.”
Thankful to be home, Abedini still faces challenges adjusting to life back in Idaho with his wife and children.
“My marriage is not in a good position right now, and I need people who prayed for me to continue,” he said.
Still, he remains hopeful.
“I knew that I was going to go through this suffering because of my faith, and I knew that God was using this opportunity to let the Gospel be preached so I always encouraged myself that the things I was going through were not useless, were not for nothing, and good things were coming out from it,” he said.
Abedini Disputes Wife’s Marital Abuse Allegations
In a previous CBN story, Pastor Abedini disputed his wife’s marital abuse allegations, but said that he loves his wife and is praying for healing and restoration in their marriage.
In early February, Saeed Abedini issued a statement to the Idaho Statesman newspaper about his wife Naghmeh’s allegations of marital abuse.
“While I am far from perfect as a man or a husband, I am seeking every day to submit to God as He molds me into what He wants me to be,” the statement read.
Abedini also said much of what his wife wrote in her Facebook posts and subsequent media reports is not true.
His wife has filed for legal separation from her husband. The Idaho Statesman reported at the time that, while it has not been able to review the case file, online court records show Saeed pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge of domestic assault in 2007.
The judge sentenced him to 90 days in jail and suspended the sentence, but Saeed was put on one-year probation.
Abedini said he will continue to seek reconciliation with his wife in private.
According to CBN, Rep. Robert Pittenger, R-N.C., knows the couple well. Using his influence as a member of Congress, Pittenger worked closely with Naghmeh to push for Saeed's freedom, repeatedly calling for his release. He also flew to Germany to meet with Saeed immediately after his release.
Pittenger told CBN News it's important not to be dismayed or discouraged about the Abedini's private marital problems that have recently become public.
“Do we look at King David as a hero of the faith? He had his own fragility,” Pittenger said. “Psalm 51: ‘Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy loving kindness.’ So he understood his mercies are new to me every morning. It's true for me as well. I come here as a broken vessel, one who needs the grace of God every single day.”
“So they need a lot of love, a lot of support, and a lot of privacy,” he continued. “I'm glad I don't have to work out all the details of my marriage before cameras and before the scrutiny of individuals. I've been married 38 years and I can say it's involved a lot of love, a lot of forgiveness, and a lot of forgetting on the part of both of us. So that's what marriage is.”
“They will work through this; I pray and hope. He's back at home back in Idaho with his kids. And I know she loves him. She went all over this country,” he said. “I spent a lot of time with Naghmeh. Spent a lot of time with him.”
“We correspond, email and we talk. So, my hope and prayer is that they'll get this worked out,” he said. “But I think we need to give them the privilege of some distance and allow the grace of God to be there.”
Photo: 1) Saeed Abedini sharing his prison experiences on CBN. 2) Naghmeh and Saeed together during happier times. 3) Dan Wooding with some of his many books (OC Register).
About the writer: Dan Wooding, 75, is an award-winning winning author, broadcaster and journalist who was born in Nigeria of British missionary parents, and is now living in Southern California with his wife Norma, to whom he has been married for more than 52 years. They have two sons, Andrew and Peter, and six grandchildren who all live in the UK. Dan is the founder and international director of ASSIST (Aid to Special Saints in Strategic Times) and the ASSIST News Service (ANS), and is also the author of some 45 books, the latest of which is Mary, My Story from Bethlehem to Calvary (http://marythebook.com). He has been a full-time journalist now since 1968 when he began his career in London, and later worked as a senior reporter for two of the UK’s largest-circulation newspapers.