Prayers have been answered! Pastor Saeed!

Though it has been quite a while since I have posted about this I wanted to be sure I wrote a post thanking God for answered prayer.  My family has spent the last couple of years praying whole heartedly for the persecuted Christian Church and specifically Pastor Saeed Abedini.  You’ve likely seen the updates on the news today but Pastor Saeed is an American Christian pastor who was being held in horrible Iranian prisons for his faith in Jesus.

You can see my previous blog posts on the matter here, here, and you can see a post my husband wrote here about his experience traveling to Washington D.C. to pray at a prayer vigil in front of the White House.  Over the years we’ve hosted a few prayer vigils in our state’s capitol and although Pastor Saeed and 3 other Americans were released today there are hundreds and thousands of other Christians still being persecuted for their faith all over the world.  For this reason our prayers will not cease.

The last news update I saw indicated that Pastor Saeed and the other Americans were on a plane that had left Iranian air space and they were headed to Germany.  I know this man and his family have a very very long road ahead.  The scars left by this ordeal will be visible and invisible.  So our prayers for them will continue.

I pray that you will join us. 11703255_10153438338480767_2953910902730458327_o

National Day of Prayer and Pastor Saeed’s Birthday

My family continues to pray for Pastor Saeed Abedini… Thursday marks his 35th birthday… here is more on what is happening with him.

This week, Thursday in fact, not only marks American Pastor Saeed Abedini’s 35th birthday but the National Day of Prayer as well.

Pastor Saeed – a U.S. citizen – will spend his third birthday wrongfully imprisoned for his Christian faith.  Yet as that day approaches, he wanted to express his encouragement for the Christian Church in America: “Remember my chains in your freedom and chain together in unity for our beloved America.”

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As a family member visited him last week, he was able to deliver an open letter (available in Farsi here) that he would like to see read by Christians all across America as we approach the National Day of Prayer.

Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

I have been made aware that the National Day of Prayer (May 7th) falls on my birthday this year! As an American and as a prisoner for Christ I have spent many hours praying and crying out to God for revival for this great nation. We all hope for the success of our nation and for America to be blessed, but without revival there can be no true success or blessing.  As Ezra’s cried out to God in repentance and the Israelites joined him in weeping bitterly and turning from their sin, I would like to ask you to join me in repenting and praying for revival. Me from inside of these prison walls and you on the outside.

To read the rest of his letter please visit the website for the ACLJ.

Voice of the Martyrs and Helping Persecuted Christians Around the World

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Did you know there are people in this world who are imprisoned, beaten, tortured, starved, and killed for their faith in Jesus?  It happens more often than I’d ever care to think about.  This occurs even in some countries that claim religious freedom.

It is a hard thing for me to fathom as I am able to openly express my faith however I wish.  Perhaps I might be scoffed at.  Someone might say something disparaging to me.  I might even loose relationships.  Though I have a chance to gain many more.  At this point in American history I have no fear of being stripped from my home at gunpoint in the middle of the night.  No one is going to torture me by whipping me with chains, burning me with hot irons, or starving me until near death.

I am blessed to be able to attend a comfortable church, coffee in hand, and listen to sermons meant to fire me up for Jesus.  I have access to more Bibles than I can even count, right here in my home, and I have no fear that the police will charge me with a crime for that.  I share with anyone I meet about the love of Jesus and nothing truly horrific is likely to happen to me.

So what can I do from my little comfy corner of the world?  How can I help those facing what I view as the unimaginable? Plenty!  I can do plenty! And so can you!

Persecution

Yesterday, Jack Flynn,a volunteer representative from Voice of the Martyrs spoke at my church.  He spent time opening our eyes to the realities of too many Christians in our world.  He told us all that there is one very simple thing that we can all do that will take us very little time, effort, or expense.  We can write letters to those who are imprisoned!  It sounds so simple but it can have a dramatic impact.  If a prisoner who might be feeling forgotten by the world learns the prison is being flooded with letters, for him, it can raise up hope and strength in a way that we can’t even imagine.

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Jack shared a wonderful website called Prisoner Alert.  There you will find a list of Christians imprisoned for their faith.  You can read their stories and even see a photograph.  Once you choose a prisoner to write too you click on a button that says… write a letter. You’ll be given a drop down box of phrases and scripture to choose from to compile your letter.  Why do you make you choose from premade phrases?  Because the website then translates the words you choose into the native language of the prisoner.  How amazing is that!  My family was able to put together two letters for two different prisoners in a matter of minutes.  The address is provided.  Now we just have to send them off.

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Incredible!  We will pray over these letters and ask God to deliver them and use them for His purposes.  This was so easy!  We’ll be sending more soon!

Please share this post with others so they can learn more about this cause and hopefully be lead to send letters of their own!

Pray for the Persecuted Christian and Pastor Saeed

A year has gone by and Pastor Saeed is still in prison.  You can help set him free!

Do you remember what my crazy husband did back in February?  The day he decided to jumped an airplane to Washington D.C. at the very last moment to pray for Pastor Saeed, an American being held in the worlds worst prison in Iran?  He titled that post… IRAN from God.  Well, as you would have probably guessed that wasn’t the end of it.

Pastor Saeed is still in prison.  He is regularly beaten, has been bleeding internally, and has been refused medical care time and again.  He has faced long periods of solitary confinement.  He lives in some of the worst conditions imaginable.  All the while, this man of God has been working to share his faith with fellow prisoners and guards.  I heard that 30 people have come to know Christ all because of Pastor Saeed.  Praise God!  Even in the most despicable of torturous places God can find a way to bring glory.

Meanwhile, Pastor Saeed’s wife Naghmeh Abedini has been working tirelessly to bring light to her husband’s situation.  Largely the U.S. government has ignored Pastor Saeed’s plight.  They don’t seem to care much that a U.S. citizen has been wrongfully imprisoned and is tortured for his faith.  But Naghmeh has given countless interviews, spoken on every national television station that will have her, and the list goes on.  Yes she wants her husband freed but she is also a strong woman of God who is using this time in her life to share Christ with anyone who will listen.  Again, God is doing great things to bring glory even through this terrible terrible time.

Yesterday marked a grim anniversary.  It has been a year since Pastor Saeed was arrested.  In his honor prayer vigils were held across the country, indeed across the world, to send petition to God to move hearts to have this man released and returned home to his wife and young children.  It was a time not only to pray for Pastor Saeed but all persecuted Christians across the world.

A photo of Pastor Saeed and his family.  I took this from Naghmed's Facebook page.  I pray she doesn't mind.

A photo of Pastor Saeed and his family. I took this from Naghmeh’s Facebook page. I pray she doesn’t mind.

Guess who took it upon himself to organize the vigil in our state?  Yes, my husband Todd.  My man stepped out of his comfort zone and reached out to new people in new ways to make this happen. He gave radio and newspaper interviews.  He called government officials.  He pounded the pavement to get this vigil noticed.

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On the morning of the prayer vigil a local radio station replayed my husband’s interview.  (An interview that my husband was never able to hear by the way!).  Something extraordinary happened.  He got a call on his cell phone out of the blue.  A women in our state that we had never met heard the radio interview.  She was forced to pull her car over as she had a near breakdown right there.  Her husband is a Christian in IRAN and he too is facing persecution.  She wanted to thank my husband for the vigil.  It was just the encouragement she needed.  Todd hung up his phone and looked at me, his face white a sheet.  He hadn’t expect that.  Neither had I.

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A list of names of those persecuted around the world.

A list of names of those persecuted around the world.

All in all we had 30 people joined us to pray for just over an hour at our state’s capitol.  People drove in from Rhode Island and Massachusetts to attend.  There were faces of people we have never met.  Some slipped in and slipped out so quietly we never even had a chance to say hello.  We sent up mighty requests of our God and we are expecting Him to send back mighty answers.

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The prayers do not need to end with the vigil however. Rev. Patrick Mahoney, head of the Christian Defense Coalition, is headed to Turkey.  (You might remember him, he was the one that had himself arrested at the White House in February to bring attention to Pastor Saeed’s cause). He plans to go to the Iranian embassy and get permission to get into Iran.  There he plans to speak to Iranian officials and it is his goal to FREE Pastor Saeed!  We are expecting God to perform a miracle and we need your prayers to make this happen!  Praise God for men like Rev. Mahoney who will literally risk his own freedom, his very life even, to make this happen.

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I have to put this in here.  This trip is not cheap.  Rev. Mahoney needs our help!  If you have any money whatsoever to spare… please consider donating.  Rev. Mahoney is a long ways from fulling funding this trip.  You can help the hands and feet of God by providing even just a fraction of the means necessary to make this happen.  Here is the the link.  http://www.gofundme.com/3xe9jc  Even a few dollars can help.

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Will you join me in prayer for the persecuted Christians around the world, for Pastor Saeed, and for R. Mahoney and his quest to free a man wrongly imprisoned?  Thank you!

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I am very grateful for every person who joined us yesterday!  Let Pastor Saeed and all persecuted Christians feel our love from a far and know that they are not forgotten.  It was very encouraging.  Here is that link again for Rev. Mahoney’s trip.  Thank you for giving. http://www.gofundme.com/3xe9jc

IRan from God

Hi everyone!! I’m Crystal’s husband, Todd.  Crystal was going to write a little post about my latest adventure to Washington DC to pray for Pastor Saeed Abendini,  but I asked if I could take the wheel and write it myself.  It may get long but here it goes.

This story could begin in various points in time, but I’ll start on February 22, 2009.  That day Clive Calver from Walnut Hill Church, visited  Hillside Community Church, where Crystal and I are members.  I’ll be 100% honest and say I don’t really remember why Clive came or the full meaning of his message.   I do remember Clive talked about his time in Iran.   About a crazy story about being in a car full of bibles and a guy randomly showing up looking for bibles.  Well, you could say randomly or you could say God-led.  I’d prefer the latter.  It was that night that God put a burden on my heart about Iran.

Iran had been in my prayers more and more and I often look up new on Iran and follow what’s going on, but that was the extent of any actual action for me.  I followed closely and prayed often for Yousef Nadarkhani, an Iranian Christian who was imprisoned for trying to spread the Gospel, sentenced to death, but ultimately was released by the grace of God, many prayers and the hard work of people around the world.  From following that I came to know about Saeed Abendini.  Pastor Saeed is an Iranian American.  He is a citizen of the United States and a citizen of Iran. He and his family live in Boise, Idaho.   In July of 2012 Pastor Saeed was arrested.   The charges, even to this day are somewhat vague but the underlying charge is being a Christian.  That’s right, the man is in prison because of his beliefs in Jesus Christ.

Momentum in this shifted dramatically in late January when, after a thrown together trial with a lawyer who had no time with his client in front of the “hanging judge”, Pastor Saeed was sentenced to 8 years in Evin Prison.  Evin prison is one of the most horrific prisons in the entire world.  At the same time our current (and also a founding) pastor was beginning a series on being a fan or follower of Christ.   Are you a fan of the good times or are you willing to let go of your whole life and live for Jesus.  This is where that message, my prayers on Iran, the foundations of the church I’m in, and Pastor Saeed all came crashing together.  Reverend Patrick Mahoney is one of the founding ministers of Hillside Community Church.  He comes back often and I follow him on Facebook.  Pat began posting about Pastor Saeed and came up with an idea to hold a prayer vigil in front of the White House.   Facebook is powerful and momentum for this began to build.    I began to pray more fervently for Pastor Saeed and for all Christians in Iran.  That’s when once again I felt God this time telling me I needed to go to Washington DC for this prayer vigil.

Now let me give a time-frame here.  This is on Monday NIGHT, February 4th.  The prayer vigil is on Wednesday, February 6th.  So I started poking around.  How am I going to get there?  Its about a 7 or 8  hour drive.  No, that’s too long given when I could leave and when I had to be home.  How much is a flight on 2 days notice? $1200? YIKES!! I don’t have that kind of cash to spare at all.  How about those airline miles I’ve been accumulating since 1995 (no joke).  How about $105 plus only 1/2 the miles I have in my account.  I could leave and be home in the same day.   I approached Crystal with it and while she thought I was an absolute lunatic, she agreed to let me go.  Tuesday when I got to work I booked my flight.  The rest of that day is also kind of a blur.  I focused as best I could on work but it was hard to take my mind of what lay ahead the next day.

I can’t believe I actually slept but I did and woke up at 4:20 am and showered grabbed the small backpack I had packed, kissed Crystal good-bye and headed out to catch my flight.  I have never been to Washington, DC so this was going to be all new to me.  I couldn’t believe I was doing this.   I couldn’t also understand WHY I was doing it.   Why did God want me there? I’m only 1 more person praying.  I could pray from home.  Yeah, that would work.  SMACK.  I’ve run long enough.  Time to take some action.   I arrived early in DC and decided to spend some time on the National Mall praying.

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Just before 11:00 I met up with Reverend Mahoney in front of the White House.  He was all fired up as usual and so was I.  He explained the whole situation like he had gone through it a few dozen times before.  Oh wait, that’s because he has been arrested at the White House probably at least a dozen times.  Anyway, the plan was to tie 3 people including himself, to the White House fence.  Once that was done he’d get three warning and off to jail they’d go.  The secret service, park service police, and capitol police were already on hand as Rev. Mahoney had this planned out already.  We walked over to the side walked and snapped a few pictures before our time of prayer.  My first trip to DC was sure going to be one I’d never forget.

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Here’s me in front of the White House in support of Pastor Saeed.

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Our small group of prayer warriors (minus Rev Mahoney who took the picture)

What struck me the most immediately was there were very few people who could actually come to the event.  Many people were praying around the world at the given time I know, but I was glad to have been able to attend in person.  We knelt down on the sidewalk and prayed.  Prayed for Pastor Saeed, prayed for President Obama to take notice,  prayed for Secretary of State John Kerry to take notice, prayed for action, prayed for Saeed’s family, prayed for the prison guards.  All things each one of us had most certainly done before.   I then took out green ribbon and tied Reverend Mahoney to the White House fence.  Its the first time I’ve been on the not so good side of a yellow police line.

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After walking out of the police line Rev. Mahoney continued to pray.  The park police officer gave the required 3 warning and then the 3 people tied to the fence were arrested.  Each morning the president receives a list of those who were arrested on the grounds of the White House and why.   Reverend Mahoney’s actions were very specific and deliberate and we still hope they will bring action.

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Once Rev. Mahoney was whisked away I decided to browse the city a little bit as my flight wasn’t scheduled to leave until 10:00pm.  As I was walking away from the White House I noticed the capitol police officer who not so subtly followed me a few blocks.  Presumably to make sure I wasn’t going to cause any trouble.  I managed to keep out of trouble and for a quick minute even joined another peaceful protest this one in front of the Supreme Court.storyboard-817

Pro-life protesters outside the Supreme Court

I then took the metro back to Reagan National Airport where I managed to get on a earlier flight!! So instead of getting home just before midnight I was going to get home in time to tuck my kids into bed.  Something Pastor Saeed I’m sure has longed to do for many many months.  The fight for Saeed is not over.  Its far from it.  People around the world are joining in to petition the United Nations to take action.  Make your voice heard and please sign the petition.  It takes less than 2 minutes!  Please, let’s get this man back home to America with his wife and 2 children!

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It was an amazing day.  God is so good and I am so blessed.  I don’t know what’s next.  My picture and me flying to DC generated a LOT more attention then I ever expected.  It made me a little uneasy at first.  This isn’t about me.  This is about Pastor Saeed.  Even bigger than that though its about an amazing and wonderful and loving God that wants to bless his children and wants His children to know him in deeper and more powerful ways.  Knowing Him comes often though obeying Him.

I spent a large amount of my day reading.  Reading a book I purchased on February 22, 2009 but never read more than 5 pages of.  A book by Clive and Gavin Calver.  Its titled “On the Front Line”  It talks what it really means to live your whole life FOR Jesus.  Quite fitting because I’m done running.

 

 

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