Naghmeh Abedini addressing the Missouri Baptist Convention in Kansas City.
Photo by The Pathway
KANSAS CITY – Naghmeh Abedini does not know if she will see her husband alive again. She is well aware that he may die inside the brutal Iranian prison where he has been held for over a year because of his faith in Christ.
Yet she assured messengers at the Missouri Baptist Convention annual meeting, Oct. 28-30, that she is not scared.
“You can’t fake this peace,” she said in a clear, confident voice. “It’s only found in a relationship with Christ. The dying world does not have that.”
I had the privilege of covering Mrs. Abedini’s appearance as a reporter for the Missouri Baptist Pathway. Having followed the news of her husband’s capture, I was struck by how young she is to be thrust in the midst of an international debate. She said one of her greatest challenges has been suddenly becoming a single parent and trying to explain to her two young children where their daddy is.
But the most striking thing about this beautiful young woman is her unrelenting faithfulness to Jesus Christ. Her testimony has pierced my heart.
Mrs. Abedini addressed the convention briefly Tuesday morning and then shared in-depth with women at the Ministry Wives Luncheon. (Watch the video here.) Born in Iran and raised in the United States, Mrs. Abedini said that she has always experienced some form of persecution since she was saved at age 9.
After her husband Saeed Abedini—an American-Iranian pastor whom she met while on a mission trip—was arrested for being a Christian, she reluctantly gained an immense platform. The campaign “Save Saeed” has garnered worldwide attention. As a result, she has been able to lead atheists and Muslims to Christ. She marveled that, as a young housewife, she addressed the United Nations in Geneva where 196 nations were represented.
Saeed and Naghmeh Abedini and their children.
“I told them the solution they’re all looking for to the world’s problems is Jesus Christ,” she said.
Mrs. Abedini’s boldness follows an experience in 2009 when she and her husband were arrested in Iran. An interrogator promised to release her if she said she was a Muslim. But if she professed to be a Christian, she would be tortured in prison. Fear threatened to overwhelm her in that moment.
“Is Jesus Christ that real to me? That I would go through torture and rape?” she remembers thinking. “He gave me the strength to say ‘I am a Christian.’”
Then, when her husband was interrogated, he told the captor about Jesus. “Saeed was never turned off by radicals,” she said. “He believed they were blinded and always tried to reach them for Christ.”
The man released the couple and her perspective on life changed forever. “The Lord taught me that our time on earth is in God’s hands,” Mrs. Abedini said. “Even through this, I’m not scared. I know my life is not in the hands of the Iranian government or radicals. I should have been killed years ago.”
Even so, her husband’s imprisonment has been very trying, especially for their two young children. “My whole life changed when he was taken,” she said. “Everything was taken from me, all my security.”
Mrs. Abedini’s uncle was executed in Iran’s Evin Prison, where Saeed is held. Saeed has been beaten several times and some of those who were arrested with him have died. Last week, his family learned that Saeed has been moved to an even more dangerous prison in Iran. His life is in immediate danger.
Even so, Mrs. Abedini has learned, as the Apostle Paul wrote, how to take pleasure in these circumstances.
“Don’t run from suffering. Allow it to show how weak you are,” she said. And in doing so, find freedom by falling into the arms of Christ. She urged the women at the ministry luncheon to surrender to the Lord. “He’s waiting for you as a woman to learn to let go. When you submit to God, He uses your life to reach the nations.”
Mrs. Abedini asked for prayers—for strength as she is serving in the public eye and for her two young children, to pray for Saeed to be released from prison soon and to pray for doors to be opened to the gospel. During his time in prison, Saeed has led 30 men to Jesus, and Abedini has been able to witness to the wives, some of whom have been saved.
“I can’t take any credit for it,” she said. “I hope you can see that it’s all Jesus. It’s all the power of Jesus.”
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