As previously reported, Saeed Abedini, who fled Iran in 2005 and moved to Idaho with his wife and two children, was arrested last year for allegedly threatening the national security of Iran by planting house churches a decade ago, and for attempting to turn youth in the nation away from Islam and toward Christianity.
He had traveled to Iran to build an orphanage and visit his parents last fall, and was about to return to the states when he was taken into custody. Abedini was then sentenced to eight years in Iran’s notorious Evin Prison, where he has spent the past year.
“My beautiful Rebekka, you don’t realize how much I rejoice and weep when I see your pictures behind the glass window when my parents visit me every week in prison,” he wrote to his daughter this month in letter for her September 12th birthday. “It is so hard and so heartbreaking for me to see these pictures and to know that I am not there beside you as you grow.”
“I want you to know how painful it is for me that there are great forces that are preventing me, your father, to be near you and Jacob, my beautiful and fragile flowers,” Abedini continued. “Although the wounds that they inflict on me are so painful, but I can still say that I continue to bless them and ask for forgiveness for them. I would also like to know that you are doing this as well and that you are not allowing anything but Jesus and His love to consume your little hearts.”
He then reminds his daughter of his mission work to help orphans in Iran and how she has had a willing heart to give.
“I came here to help the kids that did not have mommies and daddies, but my own kids lost their daddy. This breaks my heart so much,” Abedini wrote. “Although governments fail, I know that Jesus sees the price we are paying for Him and He will gather us together as family one day that I may see you grow up tall to be like your beautiful mommy.”
“In order to endure these hardships and persecutions, we need to learn to be patient and to stand up for our faith and for what we believe. The word of God says that patience makes us complete,” he continued. “In this new year of your life, I want you to stand strong as you have stood the previous year and be patient and endure. … Love, Daddy.”
Today, supporters in over 70 cities across the U.S. and around the world will join together to pray for Abedini’s release as gatherings are scheduled to mark one year that the pastor has been held behind bars. Gatherings will take place across the country from California to Michigan, to Texas and New York.
To learn more about a gathering near you, please visit savesaeed.org/vigil