WASHINGTON — American citizen and pastor Saeed Abedini has been released from his solitary confinement in an Iranian prison, and he sent a letter to his supporters in the U.S., thanking them for their prayers.
“You don’t know how happy I was in the Lord and rejoiced knowing that in my chains the body of Christ has chained together and is brought to action and prayer,” Abedini said.
“When someone’s life, like mine, is in danger, we realize how different we are in our opinions,” he added, “but that we are still united in one goal of praying for my freedom.”
The pastor is an Iranian-born pastor, who is serving an eight-year sentence in Iran’s Evin Prison on charges of posing a threat to national security.
Abedini was raised Muslim, but converted to Christianity in 2000. He became an American citizen in 2010 following his marriage to his wife, Naghmeh, who is also an American citizen.
The pastor used to work with house churches throughout Iran until opposition from the government led him to stop his work with religious organizations in the country.
Since 2009, the pastor has worked exclusively with orphanages in Iran, and he was arrested in the fall of 2012 while visiting these orphanages.
The pastor was placed in solitary confinement in early May, following a peaceful protest against the harsh treatment prisoners were facing in the prison.
According to the American Center for Law and Justice, who represents Abedini’s wife, Nagemah, a “number of prisoners in Ward 350,” including her husband, wrote a letter criticizing the conditions they faced, specifically a lack of medical treatment for injuries sustained in torture, harsh beatings by prison guards and rough treatment experienced by family members who visited.
The prisoners also staged a silent protest in one of the prison’s courtyards.
Abedini and nine other prisoners were placed in solitary confinement, and, according to the American Center for Law and Justice, the pastor “may have faced 20 days or more” alone, without contact with other prisoners or his family. It is unknown if any of the other prisoners have been released.
Since his release on May 9, Abedini has seen his family twice, and, during their most recent visit, he was able to send a letter to his wife to share with his supporters on Pentecost.
He expressed his thanks that “the churches have united together in prayer” for his release, in spite of differences in denominations and nationalities.
“It is though your prayers and the grace of God that the Lord is using me here in my chains,” Abedini said. He explained that many “have been freed from the chains of Satan here and have been saved and added to the church,” while he has been in prison.
He also expressed his hope that the unification of Christians would extend, so that the “church would be united and fight for the salvation of the world, a world that is heading to the way of destruction. With the same passion and the same way that you are praying and fighting for my freedom, we need to be praying and fighting for the salvation of the world.”