By BosNewsLife Middle East Service with reporting by BosNewsLife’s Stefan J. Bos
TEHRAN, IRAN (BosNewsLife)–Iranian-born American pastor Saeed Abedini is recovering of injuries after he was “viciously beaten” in prison where he is serving an eight year sentenced on charges linked to evangelism and planting churches in Iran, several sources said.
The pastor was punched in the face, leaving his eyes beaten black and blue, following death threats,
but prison guards intervened and prevented further injury, according to Iranian Christians and rights activists.
The American Center for Law and Justice, the law group which represents his wife, Naghmeh Abedini, and the couple’s two children in the U.S., said that the prisoners also demolished a small table that the pastor had used to study and read during the beating that he endured last week.
Pastor Abedini was transferred from ward 350 of Tehran’s Evin prison to Rajaei-Shahr prison, on November 3, 2013 for unknown reasons, Christians told BosNewsLife.
He was reportedly in a ward where Iranian Christians said “convicted murderers” are also held. Pastor Abedini’s wife had voiced her concern about her husband being held among dangerous criminals who reportedly threatened to kill him.
Naghmeh Abedini said authorities tasered her husband causing bruises on his body. She said her husband is suffering from internal bleeding caused by beatings. “The internal bleeding is caused by beatings in prison. He did not have internal bleeding issues before his arrest”.
Iranian Christians said even last month, prison authorities threatened Pastor Abedini to choose between death and returning to Islam.
Saeed’s father, who visited him in prison this week, reportedly said that his son confirmed that pressures increased in the last few weeks. But the pastor was quoted as saying that but no threats and violence could separate him from the love of Christ. Pressures and persecutions “have only pushed him deeper into the presence of God and most of his time is spent in prayer,” according to Christians familiar with the situation.
Saeed has said that he “rejoices” that he is counted “worthy to suffer for Christ” and the has been encouraged by people “praying” and “standing with him.”
He also heard about a resolution passed by the U.S. Senate urging President Barack Obama’s administration to in the words of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, “use the tools it has in pursuit of what should be a bipartisan goal: securing the release of American citizens being held as hostages by the regime in Iran.”
Christians said he was also encouraged that he was prayed for at the Southern Baptist Convention by Ronnie Floyd and other pastors.
“The Lord has been reminding Saeed…that although he is pressed on every side, by the Grace of God he is standing strong in his faith in Jesus Christ and being a witness,” Christian friends said in a statement on a Facebook website.
Saeed reportedly said he is current going through an experience described in [Bible verse] 2 Corinthians 4:8-10: “We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of
Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.”
News of the reported prison abuse came shortly after Iran sentenced nearly 20 people, including a well-known evangelical pastor, to more than 24 years in jail for converting to Christianity, evangelism and other Christian activities, several sources told BosNewsLife.
The United State Commission on International Religious Freedom says that since 2010, Iran has arbitrarily arrested and detained more than 500 Christians throughout the Islamic nation, where officials have expressed concern about the spread of Christianity.
As of February 2015, some 90 Christians were either in prison, detained, or awaiting trial because of their religious beliefs and activities, according to the Commission, which also claims that the most persecuted of those have been evangelical Christian converts.
Despite the pressure, church groups believe there may be as many a hundreds of thousands of devoted Christians in the country, including many former Muslims.
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