Jim Daly Christian Blog and Commentary

Is the U.S. Doing Enough to Help Get this Pastor Out of Jail?

  • Jim Daly Jim Daly is president and chief executive officer of Focus on the Family, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping families thrive.
  • 2013 Mar 13

Pastor Saeed Abedini (photo courtesy of ACLJ) is a United States citizen currently serving an 8-year prison sentence in Iran. Reports indicate that he’s been repeatedly tortured and is at great risk of being killed.

His crime?

Telling people about Jesus during annual trips to the country.

The Iranian government has charged Pastor Saeed with “endangering national security” but the fact of the matter is that he’s helping underground churches as well as building orphanages for children.

If he’s “endangering” anything it’s the ongoing oppression of the Iranian people.

I saw Nagmeh Abedini, Pastor Saeed’s wife, on television yesterday and she was lamenting the lack of support her husband has received from the U.S. government.

There are reports today that the House of Representatives is preparing to step in and hold a congressional hearing on Friday. This is welcome news, but why has it taken so long? If a government does not defend its citizen’s basic rights it sends a powerful negative message about our core values to the rest of the world.

"It’s been nine months since Saeed kissed the little foreheads of our children as he said his goodbyes early in the morning of June 22, 2012," shared Nagmeh. "It should grip all human beings at our heart's core, motivating us to do what is right, to stand up for someone whose human rights are being violated. While Saeed doesn't have a voice to sing to his children, we each have a voice for his freedom; we can make a difference.”

In some ways, Pastor Saeed’s story reminds me a bit of the fifth chapter in the Book of Acts (Chapter 5) where we read of Peter and the apostles being imprisoned for preaching the Gospel:

The soldiers brought the apostles in and made them stand before the council. The high priest questioned them. 28 He said, “We told you never again to teach using that name.[a] But look at what you have done! You have filled Jerusalem with your teaching. And you are trying to blame us for His death.”

29 Peter and the other apostles answered, “We must obey God, not you! 30 You killed Jesus by nailing Him to a cross. But God, the same God our fathers had, raised Jesus up from death. 31 Jesus is the one God honored by giving him a place at His right side. He made him our Leader and Savior. God did this to give all the people of Israel the opportunity to change and turn to God to have their sins forgiven. 32 We saw all these things happen, and we can say that they are true. The Holy Spirit also shows that these things are true. God has given this Spirit to all those who obey Him.”

I applaud the courage and bravery of Pastor Saeed and hope you’ll join me in praying for his safety and immediate release.

Pray, too, for our many other brothers and sisters in the faith who are being persecuted and imprisoned in countries around the world for the same “crime” of sharing the hope of the Gospel.

I’m curious: what are your thoughts about how we should go about spreading our faith in countries that are closed to Christianity?


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