Pastor Saeed and Naghmeh Abedini are making headlines again, but, sadly, not because there has been any progress in bringing Saeed home, or that Saeed has written a heartstring-tugging letter. Instead, Naghmeh has stepped down from public advocacy for Saeed, disclosing a flawed marriage tattered by Saeed’s indiscretions involving pornography.
For the past three years, American Pastor Saeed Abedini has endured persecution and imprisonment in Rajaei Shahr prison in Iran for his faith in Jesus. His wife, Naghmeh Abedini, has been a public voice and advocate for Saeed since he was seized in September 2012. Saeed has suffered harsh conditions and maltreatment throughout his time in prison.
We have shared Pastor Saeed’s pleas for prayer and advocacy, including Saeed’s Christmas letter and one written on Saeed’s birthday, which coincided with the National Day of Prayer. And earlier this fall, on the third anniversary of his capture, we heralded his wife Naghmeh’s plea for a prayer vigil for Saeed and persecuted Christians around the world.
Now, though Naghmeh asks supporters to continue praying for Saeed and his release, she will take time away from the public eye to heal from abuse and marital conflict.
Should We Still Pray For Saeed?
It’s a question that brings Christians to a “What now?” stand off. Saeed Abedini, a pastor we’ve highly regarded for his bravery and unswerving faith in the face of intense persecution, isn’t as perfect as we once thought. Do we reject Saeed because of his moral failure? Or do we continue to support Saeed, a Christian imprisoned for his faith, through prayer and advocacy?
In our disappointment in Saeed and sadness for Naghmeh, it would be easy (and tempting) to forget about Pastor Saeed because of his indiscretions, deeming him unworthy of our support. But we would be forgetting one important thing: Nobody is perfect.
When imperfections become public, Christians are called “hypocrites,” a title that gets thrown around more often than we’d like to admit. It even came out again last week in the Starbucks Red Cup Debacle of 2015. But Christians are human and prone to mistakes and sin just like everyone else—though we wish we weren’t. While we strive toward higher standards, sometimes we fail. We are sinful human beings being made better through the love and grace of Jesus.
At Shattered, we know all the people whose stories we tell are imperfect, broken and sinful. We each have rough edges that are being hewn, and everyone experiences different versions of brokenness. But we want to offer the hope of Jesus in the midst of that brokenness we all have in common.
While we grieve for Naghmeh Abedini and the enormous stress she is enduring, we sincerely hope Naghmeh and her family find the healing they need. And we will continue to pray for Saeed Abedini as he is imprisoned and persecuted in Iran. Despite his brokenness and moral battles, Saeed still suffers for his Christian faith in harsh conditions, and he needs our prayer support, not our cold shoulders.
And perhaps Naghmeh Abedini’s revelation brings Pastor Saeed and Naghmeh’s authenticity to bear. It’s a humbling reminder that we are not perfect. We are all stories needing Jesus.