Pastor Joel Hunter of Northland, A Church Distributed, who is President Barack Obama's spiritual adviser, has recently returned from a trip to Iran where he spoke with officials and called for the release of Pastor Saeed Abedini, an American citizen.
"One of our main goals in this trip was to create such a different environment which would include giving more leeway to different religions. Now that we have this connection, we were able to discuss these prisoners, specifically in regard to Pastor Saeed Abedini," Hunter said, according to BBC Persia, as translated by the American Center for Law and Justice.
"It was because of this dialogue that we were able to ask the Iranian government for clemency for him and we were able to bring this up with the right person and in the right environment. This opportunity was provided to us by the Iranians themselves and it did not happen because of any pressure from us." more >>
Pastor Saeed Abedini has been severely beaten in Iran while being transferred from the hospital, which he spent the last two months in, back to Rajai Shahr prison, the American Center for Law and Justice reported.
"This is an extremely disappointing development - one that breaks my heart," said Abedini's wife, Naghmeh. "Our family is deeply saddened and we continue to pray for Saeed - for his safety and his release. We are very grateful that so many people around the world continue to pray for Saeed."
The ACLJ, which represents Naghmeh and the couples' two children in the U.S., reported on Tuesday that the transfer occurred without any advance notice. Abedini's family members in Iran added that he was "severely beaten" during the incident, though the precise nature of his injuries was not described. more >>
A Christian pastor is among 30 prisoners who were badly beaten during a raid in Iran's notorious Evin Prison last week, when prison guards are said to have assaulted inmates who protested against an aggressive inspection.
"CSW is extremely concerned by the reported events in Evin Prison. The treatment meted out to these prisoners is unacceptable and is in clear violation of Iran's obligations under article 10 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which states that prisoners should be treated with humanity and with respect for their inherent human dignity. We call on the authorities to thoroughly investigate this incident, sanctioning those responsible," Christian Solidarity Worldwide Chief Operating Officer Andy Dipper said.
According to the Christian watchdog group, Evangelical church leader Farshid Fathi, who is serving six years in prison for what it says are false political charges, suffered a broken foot and toe during the raid. At least 29 other prisoners were also reportedly wounded, with injuries ranging from fractured skull to broken ribs and limbs. more >>
Pastor Saeed Abedini, who is currently serving eight years in prison in Iran, has written an Easter message to Christians around the world, calling them to die to themselves and to selfish desires in order to experience the resurrection with Jesus Christ.
"Sometimes we want to experience the Glory and resurrection with Jesus without experiencing death with Him. We do not realize that unless we pass through the path of death with Christ, we are not able to experience resurrection with Christ," Abedini wrote in a message shared by the American Center for Law and Justice, which represents his wife, Naghmeh, and two children in the U.S.
"We want to have a good and successful marriage, career, education and family life (which is also God's desire and plan for our life). But we forget that in order to experience the Resurrection and Glory of Christ we first have to experience death with Christ and to die to ourselves and selfish desires." more >>
In a rare and powerful act of forgiveness, an Iranian mother and her husband forgave the man who killed their 18-year-old son during a street brawl seven years ago, then spared his life just moments before he was to be publicly executed for his crime.
Photographs taken by Arash Khamooshi of the Iranian Students' News Agency captured the emotional moments when the parents of Abdollah Hosseinzadeh forgave Balal Abdullah, who is now in his 20s according to The Guardian.
The victim's parents were supposed to push a chair on which Balal stood with a noose hanging around his neck to effect qisas, the sharia law of retribution. more >>
An Iranian Christian prisoner has decided to go on a hunger strike despite suffering from intense physical pain in order to protest the rejection of his conditional release.
"Vahid [Hakkani] has suffered intense physical mistreatment and has been in dire need of medical treatment throughout his detention, and he was transferred to a hospital to receive some necessary treatment," Todd Daniels, International Christian Concern's regional manager for the Middle East, told The Christian Post in an email Thursday. "He and his family have pressured the government to grant him a conditional release so that he can receive the treatment he needs, but the officials have repeatedly denied this request."
Hakkani, who is a Christian convert from the city of Shiraz, was arrested along with three other men in February 2012 and later sentenced to three years and eight months in prison by Iran's Revolutionary Court for attending house church gatherings and contacting foreign Christian ministers, which is forbidden in Iran. more >>