Monday, January 21, 2013

Letters from an Iranian prison

Saeed Abedini, recruited in high school in Iran by a radical Muslim group, was being trained as a suicide bomber. The more he tried to be a devout Muslim and the more he went into training, the more depressed he became.

When he was 20 years old, he was converted to Christ. He loved evangelism, and became a leader in the house church movement. In 2005, he moved to the US, where he and his wife are now US citizens.

On a vist to Iran in 2009, he was arrested and threatened with death for having converted to Christianity. He was released, his wife says. after signing a written agreement that he would not be charged and would be allowed to visit Iran provided he gave up house church activities.

Saeed, now 32 and the father of two young children, was on a visit to Iran last year to visit family and help build an orphanage, which had no religious affiliation. He was taken off a bus by Revolutionary Guards, subjected to "intense interrogation" and placed under house arrest.

In September he was transferred to Teheran's notorious Evin Prison, placed in solitary confinement and reportedly badly beaten by guards. Transferred to a communal cell, he was severely beaten by fellow prisoners who claimed to belong to al Qaeda.

In a letter, Saeed wrote:

Prison is a test of faith. I was always worried that the storms of this life would break the ship of faith, but when you stand in the steadfast ship of faith, the storms are like a nice breeze. Nothing can break the ship of faith. These walls have created more fervor for me to love others through sharing the Gospel, but more than that, the walls have deepened my love for my Savior. I feel the prayers of all who are praying for me.

In a letter brought out of prison by relatives, he says:

When I think that all of these trials and persecutions are being recorded in heaven for me, my heart is filled with complete joy. . . 

I always wanted God to make me a godly man. I did not realise that in order to become a godly man we need to become like steel under pressure. It is a hard process of warm and cold to make steel. The process in my life today is one day I was told I will be freed on bail to see my family and kids on Christmas (They are all lies) and the next I am told I will hang for my faith in Jesus. One day there are intense pains after beatings in interrogations, the next day they are nice to you and offer you candy. . . this is where you learn you can love your enemies with all of your heart. . .

I am looking forward to the day to see all of you who are behind me with your prayers. . . 

Saeed is due to appear before a court today charged with "actions against the national security of Iran," a charge which can lead to a long period of imprisonment or possibly the death penalty.

Christian authorities in the US have appealed for prayer.