Saeed Abedini was an Iranian born Muslim who converted to Christianity, and has been credited with starting 100 churches in 30 Iranian cities with combined membership totaling over 2,000. He married Naghmeh, a US citizen, thus gaining American citizenship. They moved to America in 2005, but Saeed has made many trips back to Iran to visit family and to minister in various ways.
During his latest visit in 2012 he was arrested and sentenced to 8 years imprisonment, being confined since then in Iran’s worst prisons. Severe beatings by prison staff have resulted in serious internal injuries requiring an operation, which he has been denied to date. His prison conditions have been deplorable. Being incarcerated with the most hardened criminals, he has had practically everything stolen from him, leaving him to suffer from the cold prison conditions. To make matters worse, his body became covered with lice. A short while ago he was moved to an Iranian hospital where he has been incarcerated since.
Pastor Saeed sent out the following Easter letter, which I have copied in its totality from the Christian news website.
Happy Resurrection Day.
On the Eve of Good Friday and Easter I was praying from my hospital room for my fellow Christians in the world. What the Holy Spirit revealed to me in prayer was that there are many dead faiths in the midst of Christians today. That Christians all over the world are not able to fully reach their spiritual potential that has been given to them as a gift by God so that in reaching that potential, the curtain can be removed and the Glory of God would be revealed.
Some times we want to experience the Glory and resurrection with Jesus without experiencing death with Him. We do not realize that unless we pass through the path of death with Christ, we are not able to experience resurrection with Christ.
We want to have a good and successful marriage, career, education and family life (which is also God’s desire and plan for our life). But we forget that in order to experience the Resurrection and Glory of Christ we first have to experience death with Christ and to die to ourselves and selfish desires.
Jesus said to His Disciples: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. (Matthew 16:24)
This means that we should not do things that we like to do (that God does not want us to do) and to do things that we do not like to do (but God wants us to do) so that He may be glorified.
So in addition to spending our days and night in doing the works of faith as described above, we should also transform our dead faiths into living and active faiths through the resurrection of Christ which is an active and constructive love that is effective.
In conclusion, let us resurrect our Dead faiths to living faiths by first dying to our selfish “resurrected” self and experiencing the cross of Jesus. Then we are able to experience the Glorious resurrection with Christ.
A Glorious life with Christ starts only after a painful death (to self) with Christ.
We will start with Christ.
Pastor Saeed Abedini
Prisoner in the Darkness in Iran, but free for the Kingdom and Light
Reasons to Take This Letter to Heart
This letter deserves our attention because of its source. Here is a man who has both served well in the cause of Christ and suffered greatly for the cause of Christ, even in the darkest hours living out the message of death to self and service to Christ proclaimed in this letter. This is not a man speaking from an ivory tower, but someone communicating to us from the point on the battlefield where the fighting is most intense. Nor is the future regarding his imprisonment certain. He could be required to return to prison at any moment, and if made to serve out his eight-year sentence very likely will not survive the experience. Pastor Saeed possesses the credentials, has earned the right, to speak about death to self and taking up one’s cross with authority—with credibility.
A second reason we need to read this letter is because its tone is drastically different from the typical American evangelical message that was preached on Easter Sunday. Instead, it is reminiscent of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, with his concern regarding cheap grace, another source that earned the right to address this topic.
My heart breaks for Saeed with the harshness of his current situation and his separation from his family. My heart breaks even more for the American evangelical church that espouses a Christianity devoid of death to self and taking up one’s cross daily, which can only produce a superficial relationship with Christ in this life and uncertainty regarding eternity. Might to church in America hear and apply his message.