Saeed Abedini was born in the middle of the Iranian hostage crisis — but no one dreamed that 35 years later, he would become a hostage himself.
The son of Tehran, who fled his country because of his faith, is now an American citizen. Though that fact has done him little good in Evin prison, where Pastor Saeed has been tortured for his conversion to Christianity for two and a half years.
Captured during a visit to family, Abedini was charged with apostasy and sentenced to almost a decade in what many call “hell on earth.”
“Every day,” survivor Marina Nemat remembered, “felt like 3,000 years.” “Beatings, torture, mock executions, and brutal interrogations are the norm… where for four decades the anguished cries of prisoners have been swallowed up by the drab walls of the low-slung lockup in northwestern Tehran.”
Like Pastor Saeed, she speaks of lashings, beatings, and blindfolded horrors.
Here at home, Saeed’s wife has been suffering a different kind of agony — the pain of a nonresponsive administration. After two years of pleading, the President finally met with the Abedinis in Idaho, assuring Naghmeh and her two young children that he would do everything he could to bring her husband home.
Months later, there’s still an empty chair at the dinner table and unopened presents from Saeed’s 35th birthday.
While the White House may refuse to act, Congress hasn’t.
Yesterday, members sent a powerful message to the administration that they will wait no longer, passing Sen. James Risch’s (R-Idaho) resolution. By unanimous vote, they demanded Saeed’s release and that of three others seized in Iran.
After the 98-1 vote to give Congress a say in the final Iranian nuclear deal, leaders agreed that the President shouldn’t “have sat down at the table before these four people were released or accounted for.”
And although plenty of conservatives had argued to make their release a condition of any deal, Risch’s resolution was the next best thing. “At the very least,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell warned, “the American government should not be rewarding Iran for disgraceful human rights abuses.”
For Naghmeh, that message couldn’t come soon enough.
“Last week had been quite difficult for Saeed. The guards have also been threatening Saeed that he will never go free and additional charges will be added to his sentence” if he refuses to deny Christ…something he refuses to do, even in the darkest hours. Instead, he focuses on his home, miles away, and prays for a great awakening.
In his most recent letter, he writes:
“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.”
In a country more willing to negotiate a deserter’s release than an American Christian’s, that revival can’t come soon enough.
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.