Saeed Abedini, a U.S. pastor was arrested In Iran in 2012.

Saeed Abedini, a U.S. pastor was arrested In Iran in 2012.

President Obama spoke with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani Friday (Sept. 28), noting his concern about a U.S. pastor who has been held in prison in Iran for a year.

In a 15-minute phone call that included other issues, President Obama expressed his concern about three American citizens who have been held within Iran — Robert Levinson, Saeed Abedini and Amir Hekmati — and noted U.S. interest in seeing them reunited with their families. Saeed Abedini, a pastor who has two children, was arrested while visiting his family last year.

Earlier this week, the Iranian president crossed paths with Abedini’s wife at the United Nations. Naghmeh Abedini rushed to give a letter from her husband to one of Rouhani’s aides, who promised to give it to the president. With the news of Obama’s conversation with Rouhani, she called it an “answer to prayer.”

“This is the most encouraging news I have heard since Saeed was imprisoned one year ago,” Naghmeh Abedini said. ”I am very grateful to President Obama for standing up for Saeed and for the other Americans who are held captive in Iran.”

She also spoke at Liberty University, saying 30 people in Evin Prison, where Abedini is held, have become Christian because of him.

Abedini’s American lawyer says he was arrested because of his faith while working at an orphanage in Iran.

Earlier this year, religious freedom activists scolded the U.S. State Department for not doing enough about Abedini’s imprisonment.

In March, Secretary of State John Kerry issued a statement calling for Abedini’s release. Earlier this summer, the White House issued a statement pressing for the pastor’s release.

94-year-old evangelist Billy Graham called for release in a New York Times advertisement.

Categories: Beliefs

Sarah Pulliam Bailey

Sarah Pulliam Bailey

Sarah Pulliam Bailey joined RNS as a national correspondent in 2013. She has previously served as managing editor of Odyssey Networks and online editor for Christianity Today.

25 Comments

  1. ….Just the other day I expressed my frustration/uncertainty about this topic. So, tremendous thanks to President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry for at least bringing the imprisonment of those three U.S. prisoners (and perhaps more) to the attention of the new Iranian President Rouhani. This was an appreciated gesture on their part. Now let’s hope that President Rouhani does what HE needs to do to get these citizens home.

    • Mrs Crownover

      Yes, precious sister! DO! He is one of our loved ones, as he’s bound to us by the same blood. The blood of Christ! Keep praying sis!
      The prayers of a righteous man availeth much

  2. We have been praying for Saeed’s release for the last year. During the recent prayer vigil in my city, I blew the shofar for Saeed and as a plea to Adonai to bring him home to his family along with the other prisoners.
    Adonai Yeshua is mighty to save. He tells all His people to have the shofar in their tents. It is the cry to battle and the call for blessings…shalom Naghmeh and little ones, Yeshua will give you your heart’s desire because of Saeed’s humility and service for the glory of our Adonai. He is Ruler over all and will judge the evil ones soon-kadosh, kadosh, kadosh O mighty One of Israel! Love in Him

  3. Remember the idiot hikers that “ventured” into Iran and were jailed? Remember the tension between hussein obama and Iran? WTH! Are they so stupid as to go to a FOREIGN country that has its OWN laws and expect treatment as if in America. Some are so damned arrogant. I say let them stay there.

    • Mrs Crownover

      Pastor Abedini is Iranian by birth, as is his wife. Pastor Abedini is charged with opening an orphanage 8 years ago for the children of Iran. He went to HIS country to help the children of HIS country. I will pray for you for being so cold and callous. “Whatever you have done to the least of these, you have done to me”

    • Jay, I used to have similar thoughts about people getting into trouble after making a ” free choice “. As a Christian Pastor Saeed ( & all believers ) are instructed by Our Lord, Jesus Christ, to go into the world and spread the Gospel. Additionally, his family is in Iran.
      I do not believe I would have his courage. I would not be able to convince myself to go.
      It is callous and unChristian to judge this man ( & others ). I encourage you to pray for him and other persecuted Christians in the world.
      I am praying you will have a change of mind but you must first turn to God, Jesus Christ and be born again.
      I am praying for you.
      I went to God and confessed my sins, asked for forgiveness, accepted His Grace and believe in Him.
      I offer encouragement, not judgement or in any way am I ‘ throwing stones.

      • How would you feel if the pastor was am was an Iranian Imam going back and forth from Iran to America converting people to Islam and building orphanages and converting the young children there to Islam ? You think some Americans might be a little bothered by that? Look at the things America has done to Iran in the past. (Maybe you don’t know about the installation of the brutal dictator the Sha and much more in 1953. The Iranians finally over threw him in 1979. I know you hear things like Iran threatening to wipe Israel of the map , but if you research you will find that isn’t true and there is absolutely NO indication they are building a weapon either. They are doing nothing outside of their right under the NNPT and we are sanctioning them. Do you think it is understandable they are suspicious of this man? And why did his wife brag of him converting more mulsim’s to Christianity while in prison…real bright. Does he want to be released?

  4. I am reminded of the story about the man riding a house during a flood. He sent three (3) boats/rescuers away stating that “God would provide.” Upon entering Heaven upon drowning he was perplexed and asked God why he had forsaken him in his time of need. God responded “I sent you 3 boats. What more did you need?” My poor poor Lord. You just cannot fix stupid.

    • I would be afraid to stand before Almighty God and have to answer to Him for an outspoken foolhardy attitude about this horrific situation such as yours. It would then b an eternal regret.. You should fix it before a merciful and forgiving God . One we are all suppose to emulate.

  5. Earold Gunter

    Jay, Nice story. However If God sent the boats for the rescue, who sent the floods in the first place?

    I have to disagree though, stupid can be fixed, with logic and reason.

    Consider – Live life, love people, without the promise of the carrot, or the threat of the stick, it’s not necessary.

    Good day!

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