The American pastor imprisoned in Iran for his Christian faith has sent an Easter message from his hospital bed to his family of supporters across the globe, reminding them of the importance of faith.
Saeed Abedini, the 33-year-old Idaho resident who has served one year of an eight-year prison term in Iran for practicing his Christian faith, has passed the letter to family members who were permitted to visit him at the Tehran hospital where he has been for more than five weeks, according to his attorneys.
The following letter was passed to Abedini's wife, Naghmeh, who is at their Boise-area home with their two children:
Crucifying the resurrected “self” with Christ and resurrects our dead faith with Christ.
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)
Abedini was transferred from prison to the hospital for treatment of life-threatening injuries, including internal bleeding sustained from frequent beatings by prison guards.
The pastor has passed letters of encouragement to his family and supporters throughout his imprisonment, emphasizing the importance of prayer and hope.
"Saeed always made Easter a special celebration by doing special crafts with our kids in order to remind them of the resurrection of Jesus Christ and what that meant for forgivnesss of sin for humanity and reconciliation with God," Naghmeh Abedini told FoxNews.com on Sunday. "I had hoped that with all of the travels and efforts over the last few years, Saeed would be home by now. Again this year we celebrated Easter with a deep pain and longing of not having Saeed in our midst. With Saeed's birthday coming up in May and our 10th year wedding anniversary coming up in June, I only hope that we would not have to face more painful reminders of Saeed's absence."
Over the last year, Abedini has endured long stints in solitary confinement, and, according to his supporters, beatings and torture at the hands of his jailers and fellow inmates. For months, he has been denied proper medical attention for his injuries, according to his family and attorneys.
More than a decade ago, Abedini began working as a Christian leader and community organizer developing Iran’s underground home church communities for Christian converts who are forbidden from praying in public churches. He was arrested in 2009, but released after pledging to stop formally organizing house churches in Iran. When he returned to Iran last year to help build a state-run, secular orphanage, Iranian police pulled him off a bus and imprisoned him.
After spending months imprisoned without any notice of charges, Abedini was sentenced in January 2013 to eight years in prison, as his family and attorneys continue to press the State Department and other public and private groups to help win his release.
There has been wide bipartisan support in the Senate and Congress, with lawmakers calling for the pastor’s immediate release.
In August, Abedini’s attorneys filed an appeal to overturn or shorten his prison sentence but the court denied the petition.
Many have criticized Western leaders for not demanding Abedini’s release, along with the two other Americans, ex Marine Amir Hekmati and former CIA operative Robert Levinson, to be released as part of the ongoing nuclear deal with the Iranian government.
President Obama did make mention of Abedini in his historical phone call Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani in September as he left the U.N and headed back to Tehran. There has been no action by the Iranian government since.
Tensions are now increasing as President Obama signed a bill proposed by Senator Ted Cruz Friday denying Visa entry to Iran’s ambassador pick to the U.N, Hamid Aboutalebi.
The Iranian government, standing behind their nominee, plans to appeal the decision in front of the U.N Tuesday.