Pastor Saeed Abedini writes a letter home

American Pastor Saeed Abedini, a Muslim convert to Christianity, faces an 8 year prison sentence after his September 2012 arrest and indictment in Iran because of his religious beliefs. The Iranian government refuses to recognize his U.S. citizenship or make his charges public. Abedini's U.S.-based family is being represented by the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ). (Photos courtesy of The American Center for Law and Justice).

American Pastor Saeed Abedini, a Muslim convert to Christianity, faces an 8-year prison sentence after his September 2012 arrest and indictment in Iran because of his religious beliefs. The Iranian government refuses to recognize his U.S. citizenship or make his charges public. Abedini’s U.S.-based family is being represented by the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ). (Photos courtesy of The American Center for Law and Justice).

Iran (ACLJ/MNN) — Christmas is generally a time of warmth, joy, and hope. However, there are people all around you missing loved ones even more during the holidays. This is true for Pastor Saeed Abedini and his family. While his situation is anything but warm and happy, he is finding hope, strength, and joy in the birth of Jesus Christ.

The American Center for Law and Justice shares the following update:

American Pastor Saeed Abedini, a U.S. citizen imprisoned in Iran for his Christian faith, has written a heartbreaking letter from his prison cell.

He talks about both the difficulty of spending Christmas trapped in a cold dark prison cell and how his faith in Christ is carrying him through this difficult time.

He writes:

These days are very cold here. My small space beside the window is without glass, making most nights unbearable to sleep. The treatment by fellow prisoners is also quite cold and at times hostile. Some of my fellow prisoners don’t like me because I am a convert and a pastor. They look at me with shame as someone who has betrayed his former religion. The guards can’t even stand the paper cross that I have made and hung next to me as a sign of my faith and in anticipation of celebrating my Savior’s birth. They have threatened me and forced me to remove it. This is the first Christmas that I am completely without my family; all of my family is presently outside of the country. These conditions have made this upcoming Christmas season very hard, cold, and shattering for me. It appears that I am alone with no one left beside me.

But he also wrote what Christmas means to him in the midst of this turmoil:

Christmas means that God came so that He would enter your hearts today and transform your lives and to replace your pain with indescribable joy.

The same way that the heat from the earth’s core melts the hard stones in itself and produces lava, the fiery love of God, Jesus Christ, through the virgin Mary’s womb came to earth on Christmas to melt the hard heart of sin and wickedness of the world and removes them from our life. 

The letter was sent to a family member. It was just last week that a relative was able to visit him–the first time a family member has been able to visit him in well over a month. He remains in need of medical care, suffering from increased pain from internal injuries sustained as a result of multiple prison beatings throughout the course of more than two years in a harsh Iranian prison.

Yet even in the darkest of circumstance,s the light of Christ shines through. He concluded his message with this charge to everyone who reads his words: “So this Christmas let the lava-like love of Christ enter into the depth of your heart and make you fiery, ready to pay any cost in order to bring the same lava love to the cold world around you, transforming them with the true message of Christmas.”

Pastor Saeed’s wife, Naghmeh, and their two young kids, Jacob and Rebekka, are spending their third Christmas without their husband and father. Naghmeh said:

Reading this Christmas letter is quite difficult knowing the harsh condition that Saeed is in and the adversity that he faces daily. Saeed…I wish you could see the lives that are touched and transformed because of you standing strong in your faith in Jesus Christ. The kids and I miss you and cannot imagine another Christmas without you, but we are proud of you and your endurance. Don’t give up hope. Many are praying and taking action to bring you home.

This Christmas, as we celebrate our Savior, we must remember those who are in chains for their faith, in chains for the very Gospel–the Good News–we are celebrating.

Please continue to sign the petition for Pastor Saeed’s freedom as we work to secure his release. And pray for Pastor Saeed to remain strong during this trying time.

You can download Pastor Saeed’s letter here. To sign the petition, click here.