"Most mornings like today, I wake up in a new hotel in a new city or country and am reminded of my new reality — a reality that includes lonely airports and empty hotel rooms," Naghmeh told the Committee. "This pain of this journey without my husband has only increased as I have had to frequently leave my children to advocate for my husband's release. The reality is, we are a family torn apart. Over the last three years, I have had to watch my two children, Rebekka (who is 8 years old) and Jacob (who is 7 years old), suffer daily as they have grown up without a father or a mother. I am here today as single mother who is trying to be strong for her children, and as a wife who humbly admits, I need your help. I cannot bear to look at my children's longing eyes one more time and explain to them why their daddy is still not home."
Explaining the continued imprisonment of their father must be especially difficult at this point in the family's ordeal. In January, Naghmeh and the children had a ten minute audience with Barack Obama in Idaho. The current President of the United States looked little Jacob in the eye and said that he'd try to have his daddy home by the boy's birthday, in March. Obama lied, of course: his intensive negotiations with Iran, over that country's nuclear program, have not included any reference to prisoners such as Saeed. But politics and adult treachery are not easily understood by a seven year old.
Saeed and Jacob in happier times
The Congressmen were moved by Naghmeh's testimony, and both the House and Senate have expressed support for Saeed and other persecuted Christians in recent years. But Congress does not make foreign policy, and neither the current President nor his Secretary of State, John Kerry, have done anything to help these people. The current nuclear treaty being negotiated, which will facilitate Iran's eventual acquisition of a nuclear weapon capability, has not been tied to any human rights abuses by that regime. The Senate will have to ratify that treaty, at least in theory, but the current President has proved himself a master at sidestepping Congress.
Nevertheless, Naghmeh Abedini's faith has not wavered. Recalling the three Hebrews thrown into the furnace in Daniel 3, she said: "Jesus was with them. He was the fourth man in the furnace. In the midst of the fiery furnace Jesus did not abandon His own. During the last three years Jesus has never abandoned Saeed and me. He has been with us during the fiery furnace even when the furnace had been heated seven times hotter than usual. He has dried every tear and has given us the strength to endure."
Naghmeh and Rebekka
Needless to say, the Iranian government is acutely aware of such events as Naghmeh's meetings with Obama and the Congress. How has that nation responded to this latest plea for help?
One day after Naghmeh appeared before Congress, Iran imprisoned another 18 Christians to prison for evangelism and building house churches. This was described in the news media as "a new crackdown on Christianity in the Islamic republic."
This is not a hopeful sign for Saeed, of course, but thankfully, Christians are not limited to the evidence of their eyes and ears. We will continue to pray for Saeed, Naghmeh, and all the Christians like them, knowing that God's hand is not shortened by the cruelty of the Iranians or the monstrous duplicity of Barack Obama.
The news provokes righteous outrage, or it should; but our persecuted brethren need more than outrage: they need our fervent prayers. God forbid that we should sin against Him by neglecting to pray for them.
The complete story:
Iran Sentences 18 Christians to Prison for Their Faith in New Crackdown on Christianity (The Christian Post)
Pastor Saeed Abedini's Wife to Congress (The Christian Post)
Obama Meets Saeed Abedini's Wife Naghmeh and Children in Boise; Promises to Do All He Can to Free Pastor, Get Him Home by Son's Birthday (The Christian Post)