Christians worldwide are gathering today to pray for the release of an American pastor who has been imprisoned in Iran simply because of his Christian faith.
From the United States to Mexico and Kenya, over 500 gatherings are scheduled for Friday to lift up Saeed Abedini in prayer, as well as other Christians suffering or imprisoned for their faith.
As previously reported, Abedini, a former Muslim turned Christian, left Iran in 2005 and moved to the U.S. with his wife and children to find religious freedom after facing conflict with authorities for planting house churches in the county.
Last fall, he traveled back to Iran to build an orphanage and visit his parents—and was about to return to the states—when he was taken into custody. Abedini was later charged with threatening the national security of Iran, and for attempting to turn youth in the nation away from Islam and toward Christianity. He was then sentenced to eight years in Iran’s notorious Evin Prison, where he has spent nearly two years behind bars.
In November of last year, Abedini was transported to Rajai Shahr Prison, which was believed to pose an even greater threat to Abedini’s health and safety. In May, while obtaining treatment at a local hospital for injuries sustained from beatings, he was likewise beaten and returned to prison. The most recent reports outline that Islamic State supporters within the prison have now threatened Abedini’s life, as well as members of Al Qaeda.
As today marks exactly two years since his arrest, Christians around the world are joining together to ask God to free Abedini and return him to his family. Various gatherings are scheduled in states across America, as well as in 33 nations around the globe. Christians in Argentina, Australia, the Ukraine and Germany are all participating in prayer meetings in their country.
On Thursday evening, hundreds gathered in front of the White House in Washington, D.C. to pray for Abedini’s release, as well as to remember the persecuted Church around the world. Christians nationwide have been urging Barack Obama to be more active in helping to free the pastor.
Abedini’s wife, Naghmeh, as well as his two children, were present at the event, as well as members of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) who have been working toward the pastor’s release. Evangelist Franklin Graham was also present at the candle-lit event to show his support.
In addition to a time of prayer, Abedini’s wife read aloud a letter that he had recently written to his daughter Rebekkah for her eighth birthday.
“I know that you question why you have prayed so many times for my return and yet I am not home yet,” it read. “The answer to the why is who. Who is in control? [The] Lord Jesus Christ is in control.”
“Jesus allows me to be kept here for His glory,” Abedini continued. “He is doing something inside each of us and also outside in the world. 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. He is worth the price. And He has a plan to be glorified through our lives.”
Per his request, Abedini’s children then sang one of his favorite songs.
The prayer gatherings will continue at different times around the world today, with thousands expected to participate in the observance.
Editor’s Note: To learn about a prayer gathering near you, please click here for a complete listing of participating churches and cities.