An American pastor imprisoned in Iran remains strong in faith despite suffering from internal injuries resulting from beatings behind bars, according to an update from his wife and the legal organization that is fighting for his release.
The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), which has been keeping Christians abreast of the plight of Saeed Abedini, reports that a relative of the pastor was able to visit him in prison last week, and found that he remains in great pain.
“He expressed … that his pain is increasing,” Executive Director Jordan Sekulow said.
Abedini’s wife, Naghmeh, made similar statements as she stays in touch with her husband from afar.
“Saeed continues to have severe pain and would appreciate your prayers,” she stated.
As previously reported, Abedini, a former Muslim turned Christian, left Iran in 2005 and moved to the United States with his wife and children to find religious freedom after facing conflict with authorities for planting house churches in the county. In 2012, 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 two years behind bars.
In November 2013, 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.
In a letter written earlier this month from his prison cell, Abedini stated that it is his faith in Christ that keeps him holding on in the midst of difficulty.
“These days are very cold here. My small space beside the window is without glass making most nights unbearable to sleep,” he explained. “The treatment by fellow prisoners is also quite cold and at times hostile. Some of my fellow prisoners don’t like me because I am a convert and a pastor. They look at me with shame as someone who has betrayed his former religion.”
Abedini urged fellow Christians to shine bright in these days of darkness and not be afraid to suffer for their faith.
“[B]rothers and sisters, the fact of the gospel is that it is not only the story of Jesus, but it is the key of how we are to live and serve like Jesus,” he continued. “Today, we like Him should come out of our safe comfort zone in order to proclaim the word of life and salvation though faith in Jesus Christ and the penalty of sin that He paid on the cross and to proclaim His resurrection. We should be able to tolerate the cold, the difficulties and the shame in order to serve God. We should be able to enter into the pain of the cold dark world.”
Despite the pain that he continues to experience within his physical body, Abedini’s wife says that his spirit is strong.
“He has felt the presence of Jesus ever so near to him during this time and has felt all of your prayers,” she stated in a message to supporters. “He wants you all to know how your prayers have crossed prison walls and how the Lord has been ministering to him.”