Perhaps you have already heard, or perhaps this is the first you are hearing about it. Over the last few days there has been a troubling situation which has arisen over Pastor Saeed Abidini and his family. Naghmeh Abedini, the wife of American-Iranian pastor, Saeed Abedini, who is serving an eight-year prison sentence in an Iranian prison for his Christian activities, has decided to temporarily suspend all of her public efforts.
She is worn out, exhausted from all of the travel and the demanding speaking schedule she has been involved in now for over three years. She still hopes and prays for her husband’s release from prison, but she has found herself physically and emotionally unable to keep up any more, and is backing away for a period of time to pray, reflect, and be away from the crowds with her children. She has also halted public advocacy, citing marital problems and abuse. Carrying this secret and trying to remain in the public eye has proven more than she can bear.
In two emails written to supporters, she revealed some details of her troubled marriage to Saeed Abedini, which she said included “physical, emotional, psychological, and sexual abuse due to Saeed’s addiction to pornography.” The abuse, she said, started early in their marriage and had worsened through the years.
“I would appreciate for those who care about Saeed and our family to give us time for rest and healing and to respect our privacy,” she told a Christianity Today columnist. “I will continue to pray for my husband’s release and advocate for him as he suffers in an Iranian prison for his Christian faith. I would also ask others to join me in continuing to pray for his release.”
For many Christians, Pastor Saeed is a modern hero of the faith because of his public persecution and suffering for his faith. The human tendency is to objectify our heroes, make them bigger than life, and above the usual frailties of humanity. But, Saeed is just a man who has now been exposed as a man. Whatever shock or disappointment we may feel seeing our hero fall, must be tempered with the compassion and grace we would hope for if the reality of who we are were ever to be made public. None of us are perfect, this is why Christ came and why Pastor Saeed gave his life to Christ in the first place – he is just a man who needs a savior.
Three things remain true; our brother is imprisoned for his faith, his life is in danger there, and he remains in a position which requires our prayer and any effort to see him released. Yes it hurts to see our heroes fall, but like us, Saeed is just a man. We must remember this and not waste time judging him for his frailties. Today our brother remains in need of our prayers more than ever before.