President Obama met with Naghmeh Abedini, the wife of imprisoned Pastor Saeed Abedini, and their two children in Boise, Idaho, on Wednesday. Abedini said that she had been praying and fasting for such a meeting. Obama promised the family to do all he can do to bring the pastor home from Iran.
“I am extremely thankful the president took the time to meet with our family and told us that securing the release of my husband is a top priority,” Naghmeh Abedini said.
“The president was focused and gracious — showing concern to me and my children. I know that this meeting could not have occurred without prayer, and I am grateful to the many people around the country and world who continue to pray for Saeed’s release. The president repeated his desire to do all that he can to bring Saeed home. That means the world to me and my children and has given me a renewed sense of hope.”
Abedini also told Obama that “the kids and I prayed for him and loved him (that as Christians that is what we are to do). He said he needed prayer. My son Jacob then asked him ‘Mr. President, can you please bring my daddy home for my birthday?’ President Obama asked Jacob when his birthday was and Jacob said March 17. President Obama said ‘I am going to try very hard to make that happen Jacob.’
“God was so evidently present in the meeting. The entire time the president was holding my hand and reassuring me. At the end he gave me a hug and we took pictures.”
According to Naghmeh Abedini, Saeed’s father was able to have a recent in-person visit with Saeed. “The first thing he did was give Saeed a big kiss on the cheek from Jacob. Saeed’s dad shared with Saeed that so many people were praying and supporting him. Saeed was really encouraged. Saeed’s dad shared about Christmas and how the kids were doing. Saeed wanted to know how big the kids had gotten and stories about the kids. The most painful part for Saeed is being torn from his family and not seeing his kids grow up. He continues to have pain and the horrible conditions of the prison are not helping and are deteriorating his health.”
Pastor Abedini is serving an eight-year sentence in Iran, after having been arrested in September 2012 while working on an orphanage. The American Center for Law and Justice, which represents Naghmeh Abedini and the couple’s children, has said that the pastor, who was born in Iran but became an American citizen, is being punished for his Christian faith.
Open Doors has supported Pastor Abedini and several other Christians imprisoned in Iran through prayers and a writing campaign. Iran is ranked No. 7 on the Open Doors 2015 World Watch List of the worst persecutors of believers.
Compiled by Jerry Dykstra. For media inquiries, contact Christine Cape at 404-545-0085 or Katie Rouse at 678-410-9575.