Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A Cry for More

Pastor Saeed Abedini is an American citizen, but he and his wife are from Iran. Back in August, Saeed was visiting in Iran because he was working to set up a secular orphanage…he had made several trips over the past months. But on this particular trip, he was arrested and thrown in Evin Prison for violating national security. This past Monday they set his trial date, but did not allow him to attend it. They sentenced him to eight years in Evin Prison for converting to Christianity back in 2000 and for endangering Iran’s national security by poisoning the minds of Iran’s youth against Islam. Evin Prison is known as hell on earth, and from the below account you can probably see why….
Marina Nemat was just 16 in 1981 when she was arrested and thrown into Evin during the mass arrests of students. She recalls the experience vividly.

“When you clear the gates, you are immediately blindfolded and brought underground,” Nemat told “They take you for interrogation. They take you to a hallway and sit you down. You are there for a long time. If you move or say anything you are beaten. You must sit perfectly still, while still blindfolded, and you can wait for hours, days or even weeks.”

Broken captives are then taken to an interrogation room, where the goal of inquisitors has little to do with getting at the truth.

“They are not looking for information," said Nemat, now an instructor at University of Toronto and author of "Prisoner of Tehran," a 2007 book detailing her ordeal and a second memoir entitled, "After Tehran". "What they want is for you to admit that you affected the national security of Iran.”

The bare feet of troublesome prisoners are lashed with cable to loosen their tongues. They're made to walk on swollen feet before the lashings resume, said Nemat, who added that many prisoners have died during this phase of interrogation.

Nemat survived and then endured six months of solitary confinement in Evin's 209 section, where cells typically had a toilet, a sink and no bed.

“The cells were just large enough to lie down," she said. "When you lay down at night if you stretched out your arms, you could touch the walls. Every day felt like 3,000 years.”

But the most harrowing experience Nemat went through at Evin came when jailers blindfolded her and led her out of a cell and down a corridor. When the blindfold was removed, she was facing a firing squad. As she waited for the cluster of rifle reports that would end her life, a guard pulled her away.

“He brought me back to my cell,” she said. “He told me that I was sentenced to death in court. I told him that I never had a trial and he said, ‘Yes you had a trial, you just weren’t there.'”

Like many other prisoners issued a death sentence, Nemat’s was reduced to life in prison. She spent another 15 months in another section of Evin, where she shared with as many as sixty other inmates in a public cell originally designed for just five or six people.

“Food was bare minimum and we were always hungry," she said. “The prison had closed-circuit television and they showed religious propaganda all day and they also showed the recorded confessions of the leaders of opposition groups who had broken under torture. We had only religious books about the Koran to read. Visitations were extremely limited and if we showed any sign of distress during visitation to our families, we would be tortured.”

Nemat spent three years at Evin before getting a new trial, where her sentence was reduced to time served. Although she and countless other inmates at Evin never were told what their supposed crimes were, the charge of compromising national security is the typical catch-all. It is punishable by death.”  -Written by Perry Chiaramonte on If you would like to read the full article, click 

This is what Saeed has been sentenced to. For eight years. IF he even survives the eight years, which many have said is doubtful. Many of the prisoners barely make it through two years. Pastor Youcef was a prisoner at Evin for about three years and was just recently released. The American Center for Law and Justice tirelessly worked for Pastor Youcef’s release; they are actively working for Pastor Saeed’s release today. If you would like to sign a petition that they plan to send to the United Nations calling for his release, click here.
As an American, this should disgust us. As a Christian and an American, this breaks my heart. I can’t imagine going through something like that. My brain can’t comprehend that level of suffering….it refuses to.
I so easily forget that my brothers and sisters in Christ go through things like this daily across the globe. I get wrapped up in work and petty inconveniences. I don’t witness to people around me every day…even though they are just as lost as Saeed’s captors….because I am fearful. Fearful of what? Being disliked? While my brother in Christ is beaten daily? And it’s not just me. I see this in nearly every church across our country. We have the resources and the freedoms that others in the world can only dream of….yet we do not use them. We remain silent. Sure, we may donate some money to some charities and we’ll go to revival services and vow to do better. But are we really working for His kingdom? Is our main focus the Great Commission?
I’m the first to raise my hand in guilt. I want the American dream. I have an awesome job making more money than most 22 year-olds make. I have a great husband and we live in a nice house with a garage and a dishwasher. We hope to have three kids one day running around the house. Maybe one day we’ll buy the house we’re living in and drive an SUV. We have our ministries at church and our close group of friends. We live a “normal” life….not to say that any of those things are bad. But I think that sometimes, we get way too caught up in our own little worlds and we forget about everyone else. We forget that there are people dying and going to hell. We forget that sex trafficking is exploding in numbers-even in America. We forget that Christians across the globe are tortured for their faith in Christ. I forget. My husband forgets. We all forget.
Stories like Saeed’s rock my world. I couldn’t sleep last night. I prayed for him and the other persecuted Christians around the globe. And I encourage you all to do the same. But we can always do more.
My church is currently doing a 21-day fast. Everyone has picked something that they felt like they needed to fast, rather than asking everyone to do the exact same thing. The point of this fast is to get the focus off of ourselves and onto God and His plans. To make a sacrifice, not for our personal gain, but for the gain of His Kingdom. I will admit that for the first few days I really was not on board…nor I was very enthusiastic. Sure I was fasting, but I was doing it just to “do it” because I am a part of the leadership team. But this past Sunday God convicted me of that thought process, and since then He’s taken my heart all over the place. So naturally, when I started reading Saeed’s story yesterday I decided it was time for me to jump on my soap box (blame God, it’s not my fault). And so I’ve been left with an overwhelming feeling: I should do more. I need to do more. We all do. But how?
I do not have the answer to this great conflict of interest, other than to tell you to look to Christ. He’s got all the answers. I cannot tell you why Saeed is being tortured for his faith. I cannot tell you how to solve his sufferings. I cannot tell you how exactly God wants you to put your faith into action. I cannot tell you that fasting will fix your problems or give you your life purpose. But I can point you the One who sees the big picture. And I can ask you to pray fervently for people like Saeed. I can ask you to seek after God’s will whole-heartedly and to keep your heart focused on the lost rather than yourself. That’s my heart’s cry right now. And I want so badly to not be the only one with that desire to do what God has for me. Church of America: Will you join me?
And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I, send me!”  ~Isaiah 6:8

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