American pastor Saeed Abedini has issued a statement about his troubled marriage with wife, Naghmeh, revealing that he does not agree with much of what she has written about the issue, but said that he is praying for healing and restoration.
"Naghmeh has been a hero to me and suffered enormously as a result of being 7,000 miles away from me and being a single parent to our two precious children while traveling and leading a crusade on my behalf. I will always love her for her sacrifice," Abedini said in a statement sent to the Idaho Statesman on Saturday.
The pastor, who was released earlier in January following three and a half years in Iranian prison for his Christian faith, noted that Naghmeh has been writing to her supporters about the troubled state of their marriage, but he had so far chosen not to respond, because he wants personal issues to be dealt with personally.
Abedini was finally reunited with his two young children last week when he arrived home at Boise, Idaho, but also found out that Naghmeh filed a domestic relations case to ensure that the children remain in the state.
"Of course, I had no intention of taking our children away from our home or our state," he said, however.
Naghmeh has spoken out about abuse in their mariage, and in a Facebook post on Wednesday said that she hoped his time in prison would bring about "the spiritual change needed in both of us to bring healing to our marriage."
"Tragically, the opposite has occurred. Three months ago Saeed told me things he demanded I must do to promote him in the eyes of the public that I simply could not do any longer. He threatened that if I did not the results would be the end of our marriage and the resulting pain this would bring to our children," she contended.
In his response, Pastor Abedini admitted that their marriage is "under great stress," but added that he is praying for "healing and restoration."
"I love my wife and want God's will for both of our lives," he said.
The pastor argued, however, that "much of what I have read in Naghmeh's posts and subsequent media reports is not true. But I believe we should work on our relationship in private and not on social media or other media."
Abedini said he would not be making any further public statement on the issue for the time being, but asked for prayer, noting that God "is capable of restoring a marriage that has withstood unbelievable pressure."
The campaign to free Abedini from Iranian prison, which was spearheaded by Naghmeh, drew the support of notable political and religious leaders, including President Barack Obama, and the Rev. Franklin Graham of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
Graham commented on the issue surrounding the Abedinis last week, explaining that he is trying to be a friend and assist both.
"While we rejoice at his (Saeed Abedini's) new freedom, we now lift him and his wife, Naghmeh, to the Lord for healing in their marriage. Other than God, no one knows the details and the truth of what has happened between Saeed and Naghmeh except them. There's an old saying that there are at least two sides to every story," Graham wrote in a Facebook post.
He added: "As a minister of the Gospel, I have tried to be a friend to both and to assist them in getting Saeed home and in getting access to any help that they may need. Clearly, there is a great need for prayer for their relationship and their family."