Mariam Ibraheem, the Sudanese Christian mother who was sentenced to death in 2014, says she's "disappointed" by Pastor Saeed Abedini's public "attacks" against leading evangelist Franklin Graham, church leaders, his ex-wife and others.
"I am disappointed by the way that Saeed Abedini [is] handling his issues with some people (pastors, churches leaders, NGOs and others)," she wrote in an email to The Christian Post. "We are so grateful for what has been done for us from those people. They did a lot of work for us and they are doing more."
Abedini, an Idaho pastor who was the center of an international outcry when he was imprisoned in Iran for over three years because of his involvement with a house church movement, has used Facebook a number of times in the last week to voice outrage at Christian leaders and with the current jobless situation he faces. His critical Facebook posts come more than a year after his return to the United States was celebrated by thousands of supporters.
With the divorce from his ex-wife, now Naghmeh Panahi, having been finalized last week amid allegations that Abedini was abusive and unfaithful, he posted a number of rants over the last week targeting not only his wife but prominent religious leaders.
Among other things, Abedini has explained that he doesn't have a job, complained that Naghmeh had sold their home and emptied their joint accounts, said he has very little opportunity to be in his two young children's lives, argued that the American legal system has "tortured" him and his kids, and complained that a California church is keeping $200,000 it raised for his family from him.
In his posts, Abedini also chastised Christian leaders such as Graham and George O. Wood, head of the Assemblies of God.
Abedini claimed that Graham, president of both Samaritan's Purse evangelical humanitarian organization and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, took advantage of his imprisonment for media attention. Abedini also claimed that Graham has done little to help him since he returned to the U.S. last January and couldn't help him by offering him a good job, a claim that Graham shot down through his spokesman, Mark DeMoss, this week.
The 29-year-old Ibraheem, who was the center of her own international human rights outcry when she was sentenced to death in May 2014 because she married a Christian and was the daughter of a Muslim man, told The Christian Post this week that she is disheartened to see Abedini use social media to broadcast his personal issues.
Ibraheem, who was released by the order of an appeals court in June 2014 after she gave birth to her son while shackled in prison and now lives in the U.S., told CP that Abedini needs to find a better way to handle his personal situations.
She suggested that even if some of the allegations Abedini made are true, it's crucial to remember that no one is perfect and everyone needs forgiveness.
"[E]ven if many things are bad, they are human beings and they can make mistakes. There is something called forgiveness and this is what JESUS taught us," she stressed. "If we are willing to forgive our enemies, [we] also need to forgive our brothers and sisters in Christ.
"We can talk with each other and resolve our problems personally, not on media or all over the places where our enemies [are] waiting to see the Christians falling apart and fighting each other. This is not [what] the Bible taught us to do with each other. We are one body in Christ. Our message to the world is peace, love and forgiveness. If we did not do that for each other, that means we can't do it to anyone else."
Abedini's criticism of Graham on social media also garnered responses from others, including the severing of a relationship with the Trinity Broadcasting Network.
Abedini explained in a Facebook post on April 11 that he received an email from Reza Safa of TBN Nejat Television explaining that his recent criticism of Graham "is not appreciated by us here at TBN and Nejat TV."
"Unfortunately, we have to pause our relationship at this time," the email said.
DeMoss told CP that Graham is no longer in communication with Abedini or Naghmeh and "exhausted efforts to help them be reconciled."
"[Graham] does not intend to respond to future comments from either of them," DeMoss said. "However, Franklin still requests prayer for Saeed, Naghmeh, and especially their children who don't understand the adult issues they are facing."
The California church that helped raise funds for Abedini's family while he was in prison, filed a lawsuit to determine who is entitled to receive the $200,000 in charitable donations — Abedini or his ex-wife and children.
"Plaintiff (Joshua Springs Calvary Chapel) cannot distribute the benefits because it cannot determine which of the competing claimants, if any, is entitled to the said funds," the lawsuit states.