Defending the Defenseless

Amidst the travesty and torture that Pastor Saeed is forced to endure at the hands of his Iranian captors, his faith in Christ shines through

This Christmas season a wife in Idaho is left without her husband and two young children, 7 and 5, are left without their father who is suffering in an Iranian prison because of his religious beliefs.

As we have written before, Christian Pastor Saeed Abedini, an Iranian born U.S. citizen, sits in one of the most deadly prisons in Iran.  Last month, the Iranian regime transferred him from one of the worst prisons in the world, Evin, to the deadliest prison in Iran, Rajai Shahr.  Housing the most dangerous of criminals in Iran – rapists and murderers – Rajai Shahr is where Iran sends you to disappear or be murdered at the hands of other prisoners.

His crime? His Christian faith.

He’s been imprisoned for more than a year – serving an 8-year sentence where he has been beaten – facing physical and psychological abuse – for his refusal to recant his Christian faith.

Now, even worse, since his prison transfer, he is being denied critical medication he was prescribed for those injuries.  His Iranian family reports that Pastor Saeed is now suffering from malnutrition, lice infestation, increased pain, and weight loss as a result of utterly deplorable prison conditions.

Pastor Saeed’s wife summed it up this way when she testified before Congress earlier this month:

Since he arrived at Rajaï Shahr, he has been repeatedly threatened and robbed at knifepoint. At times he has awoken to find a knife-wielding prisoner standing over him at his bed.

Prisoners have murdered other prisoners, while prison officials stood by and did nothing. In that place, nothing but the hand of God keeps him from being killed. Each day he remains in that dreadful place could mean a death sentence; any day could be execution day.

Yet, even amidst the travesty and torture that Pastor Saeed is forced to endure at the hands of his Iranian captors, his faith in Christ shines through.

Pastor Saeed’s Iranian family was able to retrieve some of the items Pastor Saeed had in Evin prison – mementoes he was forced to leave behind when he was abruptly transferred prisons.

Included in these belongings, like a personal diary and other effects, were two visible and inspiring reminders of who Pastor Saeed is and what he is enduring.

First is a sign that hung above his bed in Evin prison, which simply and poignantly reads, “Privilege of Suffering for Christ.” The second is a hand-carved wooden cross.

Pastor Saeed is suffering for his Christian faith.  His health is deteriorating, and he is prohibited from receiving medication.  Yet, he has not forgotten the God he serves, even as he is in chains for the Gospel.

As Americans, as people of faith, we must be willing to take a firm stand for those who are willing to stand by their faith.

The U.S. government must be willing to stand up for our own citizens.  It must be willing to do everything within its power to defend the most basic human rights of its citizens when they are trampled and flaunted by a foreign nation.

The Obama Administration has not made this issue a priority.  It refused to even ask for Saeed’s release as a pre-condition to its nuclear negotiations.

Iran’s proclivity toward human rights violations and religious persecution should be an obvious preclusion to any legitimate “deal” on the world stage unless and until they are able to show, not through words, but through verifiable actions that they have changed.  Releasing Pastor Saeed would be a positive step in the right direction.

But if our nation fails to ask, how can we expect Iran to do differently?

As we celebrate the Christmas season, let us too remember the reason for the season and those who are suffering for the Gospel.

And be willing as a nation to take the tough stand, to defend the defenseless, and be the voice for the voiceless.

It’s one of the main reasons we celebrate the birth of the One who made the lame walk and the blind men see each year, and it must be a national priority.

Jordan Sekulow is executive director of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ). Matthew Clark is an attorney at the ACLJ. Follow them on Twitter: @JordanSekulow and @_MatthewClark.

  • Dolores Brittain

    Pastor Saeed was born for such a time as this. I believe the Holy Spirit revealed to me the other day, that he is the fulfillment of bible passages Luke 21:12 & 13. But before all these, they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my name’s sake. (And certainly He Saeed has specifically been brought up before KIngs and rulers in these recent last days)…..13: AND IT SHALL TURN TO YOU FOR A TESTIMONY.
    I pray for this ministry and the release of Pastor Saeed, and his family. His will, will be done.

  • Jake Bates

    Thank you for this article to remind us to defend the defenseless. I love the way the Messiah is shining through (the Sekulow’s specifically) using Jewish Christians to set free an Iranian Christian. The manifold, colorful, wisdom of God is manifested in your inspiring faith (Ephesians 3). I stand with you in prayer and when I can I give. Keep fighting the good fight for our King and our fellow brother!

  • Emil Ghiurau

    Thank you Pastor Saeed for being faithful. Your persistence has challenged my walk with Christ, to live boldly and without fear. May God’s hand be upon you continually. You and your family are in my prayers!

  • Gentle Warrior

    Pastor Saeed has been in my heart for a while now. I have taken Ps 31 and pray it on his behalf and his family every day, making it intensely personal as if it was someone in my family who was suffering such trauma. Actually, it is because when one member of the body suffers, we all suffer. He is part of our eternal family, so I take it very seriously to pray for him, and I will not stop until he is home and safe and sound with his family.

    I cannot imagine the kind of world in which this precious man is living and the conditions he is under, but I also must not forget that he is in fact a prisoner of the Lord Jesus just as Paul was when he wrote his letter to the Philippian church. Under that understanding, I must comprehend the incomprehensible and rest in the fact that Saeed is in good hands.

    I also believe that there is no president, no judge and no figure of authority that can do anything for him until Saeed has fulfilled his calling of rescuing the unloved ones, whether it be one or many, only He knows.

    Pastor Saeed is a true intercessor who has become one (of the many) that live and breath among the wretched of this world. For this reason Christ came, so in this sense the Lord is in prison with him trying to reach out to those who are considered as the dammed.

    We should also greatly appreciate those who are working day and night to avail his release and who work hard to right this awful wrong.

  • areyousaying

    Who will defend, Sekulow, young gay boys and girls you “Conservative Christians” judge, condemn and would cast out even though your Jesus taught you not to? Are you proud of the laws against gays in Uganda you so freely support?

  • ac287149

    The Obama administration fights for rights of citizenship, Mirandizing, defense attorneys, and criminal trials for any Islamic terrorists who have committed clear acts of war on US citizens or territories-yet does nothing to help a Christian American caught in another nation.
    Appearing before Congress obviously does absolutely nothing, look at the IRS and NSA hearings.

  • areyousaying

    No room here with different viewpoints? Is this Fox News for the religious right?

  • Dan Zuverink

    This is one of the shames of this, once great country. While our own President , takes his time off, in beautiful Hawaii, one of our own citizens suffers and may soon be martered, in Rajai Shahr prison, home of the worst rapist, and murders, and a place where people are sent to “disappear”, May God be merciful to all of us who allow this to happen to our “American” brother. What more can we do? I believe we must all, contact our political leaders, in the House and Senate, and our state representatives as well, then go to our local political meetings and “stand up for Americans every where, being held against their will. Thanks for this opportunity, to do what is right. DZ