The wife of an imprisoned Iranian-American pastor has stated that her husband has been bringing fellow inmates to Christ and that his time in an Iranian prison is "not in vain."
Naghmeh Abedini, wife of Pastor Saeed Abedini, told those gathered at Liberty University on Monday that though imprisoned in the infamous Evin Prison, her husband continues to evangelize. "He's been asked and tortured to deny his Christian faith and return to Islam and he has not," said Abedini, who said around 30 inmates have converted to Christianity due to Abedini's witness. "For me to know that so many of them now know Christ, it makes it worth it. I know his imprisonment is not in vain."
Abedini also told the students gathered that Saeed's torturers have often told him that he could go free should he return to Islam, but that he refuses to do so. "The kids and I desperately want him back but we're proud that over us he's chosen Christ, even over coming back to us, he's chosen to stand up for his faith," said Abedini.
Abedini's remarks were made at Liberty University's convocation event on Monday morning, a regular gathering where thousands of students attend to hear spiritual and moral messages.
Held at the Vines Center every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, past convocation events have featured prominent Christian speakers from various spheres of life. Scheduled speakers for Fall semester include Willie Robertson, CEO of Duck Commander and star of the reality TV series "Duck Dynasty" and Ron Luce, president and founder of Teen Mania Ministries.
In addition to Abedini, Monday's convocation featured a message from John Piper, founder of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary.
In keeping with the theme of "Global Focus Week" and suffering to advance the Gospel, Piper preached about the satisfaction that comes from sharing the Gospel even when suffering for one's faith.
"Confidence in fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore in the presence of Jesus on the other side of this so-called dying is the root of love that is willing to lay down its life for the sake of the nations," said Piper.
"This confidence that you cannot die but only have increased pleasures produces martyrs who die in love, not martyrs who kill from hate."
Pastor Saeed Abedini was arrested in the summer 2012 while working on an orphanage in the Islamic Republic of Iran. He was later sentenced to eight years in prison, under the charge of "endangering national security,"
Despite the official story, many people believe the chief reason for Abedini's imprisonment was his Christian faith.
An Amnesty International Press release from June reported that Abedini's imprisonment appears to be part of a larger crackdown on dissidents by authorities.
"Members of ethnic and religious minorities have also been targeted with prison sentences, including members of Iran-based Azerbaijani advocacy group, Yeni Gamoh, and Iranian-American Christian pastor, Saeed Abedini," reads the release.
"Amnesty International has expressed growing concern that repressive measures are being used by the Iranian authorities to stamp out dissent under the guise of protecting the nation."
Recently, Pastor Abedini sent a letter to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani pleading that the newly elected leader act upon his call of political moderation and allow Abedini to return to his family, who presently reside in the United States.
The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) has also recently launched a letter writing campaign directed at President Rouhani for the same purpose.