Thinking Out Loud

January 16, 2016

Breaking: Saeed Abedini Released

Filed under: current events — Tags: — paulthinkingoutloud @ 10:15 am

Saeed AbediniThis is breaking Saturday morning…

(CNN) Iran has freed four prisoners from the United States, including Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian, Iran’s semi-official FARS news agency reported Saturday, citing Tehran’s prosecutor.

According to FARS, Iran freed Rezaian, Marine veteran Amir Hekmati and Christian pastor Saeed Abedini, who had been held on various charges…

…The release is part of a prisoner swap deal in which the United States reportedly freed six Iranian-Americans held on charges related to sanctions against Iran, FARS said…

…Abedini, an Iran native and convert to Christianity, was arrested in 2012 and convicted the next year on charges of attempting to undermine the Iranian government. He had been sentenced to eight years in prison.

More at CNN

I had heard last night something was happening and prayed, along with so many others for this very outcome.

Saeed Release ACLJ 1 Night Before

Saeed Release ACLJ 2 Next Morning

The ACLJ (American Center for Law and Justice) and its founderJay Sekulow have been most active in campaigning for Saeed’s release. 

A few of the previous stories here at Thinking Out Loud:

March 26, 2013

Continue Praying for Saeed

April 22, 2013

Pray for Saeed Abedini

September 17, 2013

Wife of Saeed Abedini Speaks at Liberty University

November 5, 2013

Next Few Hours Critical for Saeed Abedini

December 3, 2013

Free Saeed Abedini

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November 16, 2015

When Things Start to Implode

Filed under: current events — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 1:46 pm
Sometimes, often unexpectedly, the dynamics of a situation cause things to implode, unravel, or crack under pressure.

Sometimes, often unexpectedly, the dynamics of a situation causes things to implode, unravel, or crack under pressure.

Over the past few days, I’ve witnessed two completely, totally unrelated situations where things have begun to unravel.

The first concerns the marriage of Saeed and Naghmeh Abedini. We’ve written about U.S. pastor Saeed’s imprisonment in Iran here before and I have devoted other blog posts, links and Tweets to continuing to both bring his story and his wife’s advocacy to the forefront.

But this week Christianity Today reported:

For the past three years Naghmeh Abedini has publicly battled her husband’s captors, advocating for his release from an Iranian jail.

Behind the scenes, she also struggled with his inner demons.

Last week, the emotional distress of doing both finally proved too much, she said.

In two emails to supporters, Abedini revealed details of her troubled marriage to Saeed Abedini, an American citizen and pastor imprisoned in Iran since September 2012…

…Touring the country to advocate for Saeed’s release while coping with marital conflict proved too much, she wrote. She told supporters she’s withdrawing from public life for a time of prayer and rest…

…He has been repeatedly beaten and denied medical care at times, said his attorney, Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice.

In September, Abedini’s lawyers learned that his eight-year prison term might be extended.

Sekulow told CT that Saeed was beaten again this week and that his life remains in danger…

click the link above to read the full story at CT

The other item is the story of the decision of the LDS Church (Mormon) to not baptize or confer any of the church’s other sacraments including ordination for ministry on the children of same-sex couples. An exemption would only occur if (a) the child turned 18 and also (b) moved out of the house and also (c) renounced his/her parents lifestyle.

Now many members are resigning their membership. The Salt Lake Tribune reports:

More than 1,000 inactive and active Mormons — along with their backers — rallied in City Creek Park on Saturday to protest the LDS Church’s recent policy decisions involving same-sex couples and their children.

Many who attended the Salt Lake City event brought rainbow flags in support of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. They also hoisted signs with slogans such as “LDS: Love Doesn’t Separate.”

At one of several tables, attorney Mark Naugle helped Mormons expedite their paperwork to resign their memberships in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Their forms were then dropped into a file box, which was rapidly filling 90 minutes after the event began, for mailing to nearby LDS Church headquarters to have those members’ names removed from the faith’s rolls…

…”We may have even reached 2,000.”

click the link above to continue reading at the Tribune

Is this the beginning of a movement? I’ve always felt that the LDS Church seems to have had an inordinate number of gay supporters, and was possibly a haven for some who wanted a worship life that was gay-friendly. Perhaps this stems from a disproportionate number of gay LDS bloggers that I’ve run into in the context of compiling weekly news feeds. Apparently the head office is putting an end to that perception with this announcement. 

As to the other story, the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) will continue to advocate for Saeed’s release even as his wife and family step out of the media spotlight.

 

 

September 24, 2014

Wednesday Link List

Pope Clement Coffee

The links are on me!  Actually, the Religious Newswriters Association people were all at a convention last week, so mysteriously, there was no news.

Our closing graphic is from eScapegoat, which allows our Jewish friends to transfer their sins to a goat roaming the internet collecting sins for Yom Kippur.  (Note: No actual Halachic atonement implied.) Click the image below to visit.
eScapegoat

 

March 26, 2013

Continue Praying for Saeed

Filed under: prayer — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:50 am

“I also got to see my face in the mirror of an elevator that was taking me to the prison hospital.  I said hi to the person staring back at me because I did not recognize myself. ” ~ Pastor Saeed Abedini

On Sunday, CBN News posted:

American Pastor Saeed Abedini, who has been imprisoned in Iran, has been able to get a letter to his family.

Abedini is serving eight years in an Iranian prison for his Christian faith. The letter is written in the margins of newspaper scraps, and tells of abuse and torture.

He said he did not recognize himself after being beaten. He also expressed concern for his wife and children back in the United States.

“My hair was shaven, under my eyes were swollen three times what they should have been, my face was swollen,” he wrote.

The American Center for Law and Justice has been calling on Secretary of State John Kerry to put pressure on the Iranian government to secure his release.

Sign the American Center for Law and Justice’s
petition to free
American Pastor Saeed here.

On Friday, the State Department released a statement by Kerry calling for the pastor’s immediate release.

“I am disturbed by reports that Mr. Abedini has suffered physical and psychological abuse in prison, and that his condition has become increasingly dire,” Kerry said. “Such mistreatment violates international norms as well as Iran’s own laws.

“I am also troubled by the lack of due process in Mr. Abedini’s case and Iran’s continued refusal to allow consular access by Swiss authorities, the U.S. protecting power in Iran,” he said.

Continue reading the report at CBN News.

The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) also posted the full text of the letter Saeed wrote to his family referred to above.  In part it reads,

Saeed Abedini…I have been stung so many times that I have become full of poison. This is an Iranian saying. A lot of people say that they have been stung by so many people that their whole being is full of poison like a poisonous snake. It means that we have been bitten by the snakes of this world so many times that, that all of the poison has collected in us and that we are like the poisonous snake. But if we sting anyone, we will die. This Iranian saying is full of spirit of revenge and unforgiveness and every time I would hear this in Iran, I would get very sick hearing it.

A few days ago they brought a young war veteran who was disabled in 80% of his body in my cell.  He had been put in solitary confinement with his horrific condition. And this had made him very mad and he kept saying “why did they do this to me? I gave my whole life for their sake. See what they have done to me!!!” And when he would get very mad he would say “I will take my revenge!”

I spoke to this young man until 4 in the morning. I spent time with him and spoke to him to forgive.  When we don’t forgive, we drink the poison ourselves and then wait for the other person to die. And we take the knife that has hurt us and we stab ourselves with it again! And this is the will of the evil one who wants to destroy us.

But when we forgive, we pour out the poison of the enemy and of the devil and we don’t let the poison stay in us and we don’t let the poison make us into poisonous snakes!  So that we don’t become like the person we despised and who persecuted and tortured us.

Maybe you ask, what is the secret of being so happy in such a hard situation?

Forgiveness and a change of attitude. When we forgive, we become free and we become messengers of peace and reconciliation and goodness. And whoever stings us, we can take into our embrace and love them. And in this dark and evil time, we can live full of love and full of peace and full of joy and shine like the stars! Glory be to His Name.

I forgave the prison doctor who did not listen to me and did not give me the medication that I needed. I forgave the interrogator who beat me. Every day when I would see the interrogator and for the last time when I saw him, I forgave him. I smiled at him and with respect shook his hand and I said my goodbye. The minute I forgave them and loved them, that second I was filled with unspeakable joy. I saw in the eyes of the interrogator that he had come to respect me and as he was leaving, he could not look behind him. Love is as strong as death.

We have to get rid of the poison in our body because if we don’t, we will die. We have to get rid of both poisons; first the poison of the snake that bit us and also the poison in us that was created by that bite. We can get rid of the first poison by forgiveness and we can get rid of the second poison by humility, by dying to ourselves, and allowing the band-aid of love and goodness to replace the empty place of the wound. So that we are not a tool of darkness and revenge, but that we can be light and love and a vessel of forgiveness and we can be transformed in the process.

Surely you have someone in your family, city, work or environment that have become like poisonous snake who have bitten you and tried to make you poisonous. So, forgive them and use the antidote of love and be Victorious!

One of the chances of forgiveness came when I was blindfolded and a guard was holding my hand guiding me. He asked “what are you here for? What is your crime?” I said “I am Christian Pastor.” All of the sudden he let go of my hand and said “so you are unclean! I will tell others not to defile themselves by touching you!” He would tell others not to get close to me. It really broke my heart. The nurse would also come to take care of us and provide us with treatment, but she said in front of others “in our religion we are not suppose to touch you, you are unclean. Baha’i (religion) and Christians are unclean!” She did not treat me and that night I could not sleep from the intense pain I had. According to the doctor’s instructions, they would not give me the pain medication that they would give other prisoners because I was unclean.

I could not fall sleep one night due to the pain when all of a sudden I could hear the sound of dirty sewer rats with their loud noises and screeches. It was around 4 in the morning. It sounded like laughter in a way.

Even though many would call me unclean and filthy and would not even want to pass by me and they had abandoned me and they were disgusted to touch me because they were afraid that they would also become unclean, but I knew that in the eyes of Jesus Christ, and in the eyes of my brothers and sisters, I am like the  sewer rat, beautiful and loveable – not disgusting and unclean – and like the rats I can scream with joy within those prison walls and worship my Lord in joy and strength.

The Joy of the Lord is my strength. Amen.

Read the full article at the ACLJ website. (Newer updates may have been posted there as well.)

Having read this far, take a minute now and pray for Saeed’s soon release.


We also want to take a moment here to again mention blogger Keith Brenton and ask you to continue to pray for healing for his wife who was recently diagnosed with cancer and daughter who was hospitalized for severe depression.  If you click over to Blog in My Own Eye, start with the February 19th post and then scroll up for more recent posts.

February 27, 2013

Wednesday Link List

Bart Simpson - Love Wins

Link and the world links with you…  The cartoon? See item 4 below:

For Heaven's Sake - Feb 4 2013

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