Seven-year-old Rebekka Abedini misses her daddy. More than 400 days ago, her father, American pastor Saeed Abedini, traveled back to Iran to continue work on an orphanage he was building with government approval. She hasn’t seen him since.
If the Iranian regime has its way, Pastor Saeed will spend each of the next seven years languishing behind bars on charges related to his Christian faith. The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), a constitutional and human rights law advocacy group representing Saeed’s wife and two children, has called the pastor’s eight-year judgment “a virtual death sentence.”
“Every minute, every day Saeed is apart from us is more excruciating than the next,” says Pastor Saeed’s wife, Naghmeh, who lives in Boise, Idaho, with daughter Rebekka and son Jacob, age 5. “This was the second year that Saeed missed Rebekka’s birthday [Sept. 12]. We had hoped that this past year would be the last she would ever have to celebrate without daddy. Now I am faced with the painful realization that our kids are growing up without their father. We are praying for a miracle just to be able to see him again.”
Naghmeh won’t be alone in those prayers. On Sept. 26, the one-year anniversary of Pastor Saeed’s imprisonment, thousands will attend prayer vigils in more than 70 U.S. cities—including Washington, D.C., and the Abedinis’ hometown of Boise—and 13 countries worldwide to call on Iran to release Pastor Saeed and to pressure their own governments to take diplomatic action on his behalf.
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