A little boy needs his daddy. When birthdays roll around, he feeds on his daddy’s presence … the grown man modeling for the young one how to navigate through the normal events of life. For a boy in primary school whose daddy is half a world away, an extended absence of more than thirty months represents a significant chunk of the child’s life. Knowing daddy is wrongly imprisoned causes a level of anxiety a little boy should never have to endure.The boy is Jacob Abedini whose father Pastor Saeed Abedini has been detained in an Iranian prison since 2012. Back in January, President Obama met with Abedini’s wife and two children; he assured them Saeed’s release was a “top priority” for him and his administration.
I suspect the opportunity to have a private audience with the President of the United States doesn’t mean nearly as much to Jacob compared to being in his daddy’s company once again. However, in hopes POTUS was inclined to move heaven and earth to bring the boy’s daddy home, this private tête-à-tête would have been a necessary means leading to the desired end.
POTUS queried Jacob about his next birthday and Jacob said he’d be seven years old on March 17th. Naturally, Jacob asked if POTUS could have Saeed home in time for the event. With Jacob’s birthday now four days hence, the hoped-for birthday reunion appears unlikely.
A birthday party invitation in Jacob’s hand was delivered recently to Pastor Saeed. (See image above.) Because the Pastor knew he’d probably be unable to attend the seventh birthday party for his son, he wrote a letter and sent it to Jacob. It’s reproduced below.
This letter speaks of a father’s love for his son, as well as a Father’s love for his children. The simple beauty of Saeed’s message to his soon-to-be seven-year-old bespeaks of a man uncertain whether he will be released from prison to return home (to Idaho) or be executed in prison for his faith and sent to his heavenly home. (Earlier this month, Saeed witnessed six other prisoners being beaten; they were eventually taken away to be executed.)
A former Muslim, Abedini is an Iranian who became a naturalized US citizen in 2010. (He became a Christian in 2000.) In mid-2012, he was visiting parents and family in Tehran. Additionally, he was overseeing final plans for an orphanage to be located in Iran. Without warning, the military detained him, charging him with a criminal offense for being a Christian. Because of his Christian faith, Saeed has been repeatedly denied medical treatment during his imprisonment because the Islamic medical workers view him as “unclean.” He has also endured beatings and the frustration of being a political pawn.
But Saeed’s open letter to his son reflects a buoyant confidence in the knowledge that the God of Creation still oversees the affairs of men. Even though Saeed cannot be present for his son, he assures his son that Yahweh (I AM WHO I AM) is there for his son. This is the essence of faith, the bold declaration of trusting Jesus Christ even in the face of criminal charges for declaring unashamededly that he’s a Christ-follower.
My message is the same as Abedini’s to his son: Trust Christ if you haven’t already. The gift of salvation and eternal life is the greatest gift of all! Then, pray for this man and his family and pray for the persecuted church around the globe.