The Rev. Franklin Graham has shared an update regarding Saeed Abedini, the American citizen who was released from prison in Iran earlier this month, revealing that the pastor is "not bitter" about his imprisonment, but tremendously thankful for his freedom and the power of prayer.
Following his release last weekend, Pastor Saeed arrived at the Billy Graham Training Center, known as The Cove, a retreat center for pastors nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Asheville.
On Monday, Graham, who is the president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan's Purse, shared an update regarding the pastor, whose release comes after more than three years of harsh imprisonment for his Christian faith.
"Saeed Abedini is at the Billy Graham Training Center in Asheville, NC, getting some much-needed rest, taking some time with counselors, and having a chance to reconnect with family," the 64-year-old evangelist revealed. "He told me he is not angry and he is not bitter about his imprisonment-but he is tremendously thankful for his freedom and to be back in the United States."
Graham said that the Iranian-American pastor wanted to express his gratitude to each individual and each church across the country and around the world who have prayed for him during his imprisonment.
"He knows that prayer is what has gotten him through," he emphasized. "He is just realizing the extreme breadth of those following his story and the numbers of people who have been lifting him up in prayer."
He shared a particularly touching story, where the pastor went out to eat at a local restaurant when a total stranger came up to him.
"He told Saeed that he was a pastor and that he and his church had been praying for his release," Graham wrote. "Saeed was touched beyond words."
As reported by The Gospel Herald, Pastor Saeed granted his first and only interview to Greta Van Susteren on Fox News Monday, where he revealed he prayed for 20 hours a day while in captivity.
He recounted the pain he underwent while in prison, as he was interrogated, then physically and psychologically tortured after he refused to sign documents implicating him in crimes that he said he did not commit.
He said he saw terrible things happen to other prisoners, such as Sunni Muslims, being publicly executed.
"When they sent me to the other solitary, which Amir Hekmati, the Marine, was over there," the pastor recalled. "They bound my eyes, they took me to his room, and up in there, I think, for almost 60 days with Amir."
"First, when I removed my eye band, and I saw Amir, I got very heart-broken to see what they did to our Marine," he said, explaining that Hekmati had black eyes, and he was very thin and weak.
However, the pastor revealed that he spent much of his confinement in retrospection: "Mostly I was praying," he recalled. "The best thing I could do over there was [pray]."
In a recent Facebook update, Abedini's wife, Naghmeh, revealed that her husband will spend some time at The Cove before she and their two children, Rebekka and Jacob, join him later this week. She expressed hope that Jacob might even get his birthday wish to spend his 8th birthday in March at a Disney theme park with his dad.
Naghmeh also thanked Rev. Graham for all he has done for her family over the past several years: "I am also very thankful for Rev. Franklin Graham," she wrote. "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."