President Barack Obama met with the wife of Christian pastor Saeed Abedini who has been held hostage in Iran since 2012. The 10-minute meeting, held in Boise, Idaho, was made to help the family know that securing Aberdini's release was a top priority for the president.
"I feel like there was a heart connection," Naghmeh Abedini said in a phone interview with The Blaze on Wednesday night. "As much as I needed to see him to make it more personal, I think it had the effect where he saw us and we weren't just a news story. We are a family torn apart. I could see compassion in his eyes."
Obama met with Neghmeh and her two children, Rebecca, 8, and Jacob, 6, at Boise State University just before delivering a speech there about education. The woman said that she spent three days fasting and praying in hopes that Obama would meet with her while he was in Boise, and she wasn't shy about letting him know that.
"[I told him] this meeting was setup by God and he smiled and he nodded," she said.
But the president got quite a shock when young Jacob asked him if he could get his father back from captivity by his seventh birthday. Abedini says the moment was emotional as Obama asked when the boy's birthday was. When Jacob told him that it was March 17th, the boy's mother says that Obama looked very surprised.
"And then there was a look of shock [when Jacob responded] and he kind of stepped back and he said, 'I don't know if I can do it that quick' and he said, 'I will try,'" she continued. "I could see in his eyes that he's a dad and for him to see that that's what Jacob wants - it was a really emotional moment."
Obama reportedly told the woman that her husband's release was a topic of conversation during a phone conversation that the president had with Iranian president Hassan Rouhani.
The president first mentioned Abedini's release back in February of last year during a National Prayer Breakfast address in which he plainly stated, "Today, we call on the Iranian government to release Pastor Abedini."
At that time, the pastor had already been imprisoned for 18 months, and his wife commented that she was pleased that Obama finally acknowledged the capture and need for him to be released, although she wished it happened sooner. "I had hoped that my government would have [responded] sooner and [that I would have] felt more supported and felt reassured - and that this was a very important issue," Abedini said at the time.
While Abedini said that she feels like this most recent visit went well, she said that the president told her that she should meet with Rabbi David Saperstein, the ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom with the State Department, to further discuss the matter.
The woman said that she plans to follow-up and plans to continue petitioning the government to take action to release her husband, who was initially arrested in Iran for meeting with other Christians in their private homes, which is reportedly not even illegal in Iran.
"It's definitely encouraged me more and made me more hopeful and at the same time I'm still [thinking] 'Let's see what happens,'" she said. "The skeptic in me is also watching to see where are they going to go after this meeting. How much of a priority ... how soon can they get him home?"