At some point in our lives, our faith will be tested. It might be illness, financial disaster, the suffering of loved ones, or even—as is currently the case for many of our brothers and sisters around the world—outright persecution for our faith in Jesus Christ. What does the Lord ask of us?
Please keep that question in mind as I share the latest news about Saeed Abedini.
Last week, to mark the second anniversary of Pastor Saeed’s arrest and imprisonment in Iran, hundreds of people joined Saeed’s wife, Naghmeh, and Franklin Graham in front of the White House for a vigil, to pray for his health and swift release, and for persecuted Christians around the world.
It was the first of many hundreds of vigils held across the U.S. and the world, organized by the BeHeard Project.
Pastor Saeed, a native Iranian, emigrated to the U.S. in 2005 and became a U.S. citizen in 2010, but he never severed ties to his homeland.
In 2012, while organizing the construction of an orphanage, he was arrested by Iranian authorities for “creating a network of Christian house churches” and, therefore, “attempting to sway Iranian youth away from Islam.” In all, Saeed has been forcibly separated from his family for well over two years. He’s missed birthdays and anniversaries, and many of those landmark moments that we treasure in our kids’ lives.
His prison sentence is eight years, in a prison from which many do not return. According to the American Center for Law and Justice, he has endured beatings and has received death threats from ISIS militants imprisoned with him in the same prison ward.
How is Pastor Saeed responding?
Last week, ACLJ released a letter from Pastor Saeed to his daughter for her birthday. After wishing her happy birthday and telling her how much he wants to see her, he wrote the following:
“I know that you question why you have prayed so many times for my return and yet I am not home yet. Now there is a big why in your mind that you are asking: why Jesus isn’t answering your prayers and the prayers of all of the people around the world praying for my release and for me to be home with you and our family.
“The answer to the why is who. Who is in control? Lord Jesus Christ is in control. . .
“God is in control of the whole world and everything that is happening in it is for His good purpose, for His glory, and will be worked out for our good…
“People die and suffer for their Christian faith all over the world and some may wonder why. But you should know the answer of why is who. It is for Jesus…
“…my dear beloved daughter Rebekka Grace, I pray God will bring me back home soon. But if not, we will still sing together…’Hallelujah,’ either separated by prison walls or together at home.
“So, let Daddy hear you sing a loud ‘Hallelujah’ that I can hear all the way here in the prison!
“Kisses and Blessings,
It’s hard to get through that letter. My heart breaks for Pastor Saeed and Naghmeh. I wonder if I could handle that type of separation from my wife and my daughters, and if my faith could be so strong.
But then again, Pastor Saeed’s faith inspires me because it is God giving him the strength, and that gives me hope that when the time comes for me to face hardship, that Jesus will strengthen my faith as He has Pastor Saeed’s.
And because his words are worth hearing again: God is in control of the whole world and everything that is happening in it is for His good purpose, for His glory, and will be worked out for our good… Hallelujah.
— by John Stonestreet
Stonestreet is the Director of Strategic Partnerships for the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview and is heard on Breakpoint, a radio commentary that is broadcast on 400 stations with an audience of eight million.
Copyright© 2014 Prison Fellowship Ministries. Reprinted with permission. BreakPoint is a ministry of Prison Fellowship Ministries