(Photo: American Center for Law and Justice)
Naghmeh Abedini, the wife of Pastor Saeed Abedini, who is currently serving an 8-year sentence in Tehran, Iran, has written a long letter describing the ordeal of their experience, saying that it is a real human story that crosses political and religious barriers.
"This nightmare and the plea for my husband's life should cross religious and political barriers," Nagmeh writes in her letter, posted by the American Center for Law and Justice, which is representing her and the couple's two children, living in Idaho.
The Iranian-born pastor has been inside Evin Prison in Tehran ever since his arrest in September 2012 and his subsequent sentencing. The Iranian court convicted him of endangering national security, but the ACLJ says that the real reason behind the trial was that Abedini has helped many Christians in underground churches in Iran since his conversion to Christianity in 2000.
As Nagmeh writes, her husband had been building an orphanage in Iran when he was taken by authorities.
"It has been 9 months since Saeed kissed the little foreheads of our children as he said his goodbyes early in the morning of June 22, 2012," the American mother writes.
"Nine months since Daddy sung to them and tucked them into bed, and 9 months since I embraced my husband as we said our goodbyes, thinking at the time we would be separated only a few weeks, as he returned to Iran to continue work on building an orphanage," she added.
The ACLJ has been hard at work campaigning for the pastor's release, and the group's efforts have been rewarded by Secretary of State John Kerry, the U.S. State Department and more than 80 U.S. Senators and Representatives speaking out on the issue and calling on Iran to release the pastor.
"Every American citizen traveling or living abroad should have the assurance that the U.S. government will come vigorously to his or her defense if they are unjustly detained or imprisoned," a joint letter by the congressmen read.
Jordan Sekulow, ACLJ executive director, said that a petition in support of Pastor Abedini has reached over 300,000 signatures, and will be presented to the U.N. Human Rights officials with whom his organization will meet on March 5.
"Now is the time to redouble our efforts to save this courageous pastor, this U.S. citizen, from the darkness of an Iranian prison," Sekulow wrote.
Pastor Abedini has shared his own thoughts in a letter posted by the ACLJ, revealing that he is being beaten and pressured to deny Christ and convert to Islam in the infamous prison. The pastor has said, however, that such a thing will never happen, and has thanked the many people who are speaking out on his behalf.
Nagmeh, meanwhile, concludes in her letter: "It should grip all human beings at our heart's core, motivating us to do what is right, to stand up for someone whose human rights are being violated. While Saeed doesn't have a voice to sing to his children, we each have a voice for his freedom; we can make a difference."