Pastor Saeed Abedini has thanked President Barack Obama for visiting his wife, Naghmeh, and two children last week in Boise, Idaho. Abedini, who is serving an eight-year sentence in Iran for his faith, said that Obama's gesture inspired many persecuted Christians around the world.
"I was personally encouraged that you were in my hometown of Boise, Idaho and made time to visit my wife and children," Abedini wrote.
"They have had a heavy burden to carry in my absence, and your presence helped to relieve some of that burden. . . Thank you again for standing up for my family and I and for thousands of Christians across the world who are persecuted for their faith in Jesus Christ. President Obama, you have my prayers from inside of these walls. I pray for God's guidance, wisdom and blessing for you as you lead this great nation."
The American Center for Law and Justice, which represents Naghmeh Abedini and the couple's two children, said that they received the letter from a family member who visited the pastor at the Iranian prison.
Abedini has served nearly two-and-a-half years in prison after being arrested in 2012 while working on an orphanage in Iran. During his time in jail, the pastor has been denied proper medical attention, and has faced numerous beating and death threats.
The ACLJ and a number of persecution watchdog groups have raised awareness for his cause, and called on Obama to do everything possible to get the American citizen released.
Last week, Obama met Nagmeh Abedini and the couple's two children at an office at Boise State University. There, Obama promised 6-year-old Jacob and 8-year-old Rebekka that he will do all that he can to bring their father home.
"I am extremely thankful the president took the time to meet with our family and told us that securing the release of my husband is a top priority," Naghmeh Abedini said following the meeting.
"The president was focused and gracious — showing concern to me and my children. I know that this meeting could not have occurred without prayer, and I am grateful to the many people around the country and world who continue to pray for Saeed's release. The president repeated his desire to do all that he can to bring Saeed home. That means the world to me and my children and has given me a renewed sense of hope."
In his letter, Pastor Abedini said that he knows that Christians are encouraged as a result of the meeting.
"Nothing is more valuable to the body of Christ than to see how the Lord is in control and moves ahead of countries and leadership through united prayer," the pastor continued.
"Thank you again for standing up for my family and I and for thousands of Christians across the world who are persecuted for their faith in Jesus Christ. President Obama, you have my prayers from inside of these walls. I pray for God's guidance, wisdom and blessing for you as you lead this great nation."
The ACLJ has also praised the meeting, and noted that it will continue advocating and pressing for Abedini's release.