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Franklin Graham Speaks With Pastor Saeed Abedini, Urges Continued Prayers: 'It's Unclear When He Will Return Home'

( [email protected] ) Jan 18, 2016 11:51 AM EST
The Rev. Franklin Graham spoke with Saeed Abedini just one day after his release from an Iranian prison and encouraged believers worldwide to continue praying for him, as there is no specific word on when the American pastor will be able to return home.
Pastor Saeed Abedini, a formerly devout Muslim who was saved by Jesus Christ in his Tehran bedroom more than a decade ago and converted to Christianity, was released from an Iranian prison Saturday, after years of torture and imprisonment due to his faith beliefs. ACLJ

The Rev. Franklin Graham spoke with Saeed Abedini just one day after his release from an Iranian prison and encouraged believers worldwide to continue praying for him, as there is no specific word on when the American pastor will be able to return home.

"I talked with Saeed Abedini from Germany today, and I know he appreciates everyone's prayers," Graham, 64, wrote on Facebook on Monday.

"He and the other hostages that were released are at a U.S. military medical center there, and there is no specific word as to when he will be able to leave. Continue to keep him and his family, as well as the other former hostages, in your prayers," he added.

As reported by the Gospel Herald, Abedini, 35, was among four Americans released over the weekend in a prison swap involving seven Iranians held by the United States on sanctions charges. The pastor's release comes after than a year of secret negotiations, officials said.

For more than three years, Abedini endured imprisonment in Iran due to his involvement with the establishment of numerous Christian church houses in the country.

The American Center for Law and Justice, a Washington-based group dedicated to protecting religious and constitutional freedoms, reported that Abedini was tortured during his time in prison and was beaten by fellow prisoners in June.

Speaking to the Washington Post, Abedni's wife Naghmeh, revealed that her husband will undergo a medical examination following his release. She expressed hope that medical experts will be able to assess his physical and emotional state, as he had been beaten and interrogated when he was first imprisoned and suffered internal bleeding.

The Washington Post notes that Abedini's case put a face on the issue of persecution, especially in the Middle East, for Christians across the globe, and his release comes on "religious freedom day" in the U.S.

Over the past several years, Naghmeh has campaigned for her husband's release, regularly posting updates on social media and speaking at Christian conferences across the country.

Following the news of her husband's release, Naghmeh stated, "This has been an answer to prayer. This is a critical time for me and my family. We look forward to Saeed's return and want to thank the millions of people who have stood with us in prayer during this most difficult time."

Related: Pastor Saeed Abedini Freed, Wife Naghmeh Welcoming Him Home 'With Tears' of Joy 

She later told the Post that she woke her two children, Rebekka, 9, and Jacob, 7, at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday to tell them of the news that their father had been released.

"They were shocked," she said. "You can probably hear them now, jumping up and down, asking 'When are we going to see him?' It's been a time of rejoicing."

As she awaits her husband's return, Naghmeh took to Facebook to thank everyone who has worked tirelessly for his freedom, including Rev. Graham.

She wrote, in part: "I am also very thankful for Rev. Franklin Graham. He stood by me and my family and saw us through this ordeal. He is a great spiritual example. May God's anointing be continually on him and his family. God has blessed me not only with a spiritual mentor, but a friend."