Pastor Saeed Abedini, a U.S. citizen who has suffered for over two and-a-half years in an Iranian prison for his Christian faith, has written a letter to Christians living in the United States in honor of his 35th birthday, urging believers to remain in constant prayer for the country's revival.
The American Center for Law and Justice, which represents Abedini's wife, Naghmeh, and the couple's two children in Boise, Idaho, said Pastor Saeed hopes the letter will be read by all Christians all across America as National Day of Prayer approaches.
"I have been made aware that the National Day of Prayer (May 7th) falls on my birthday this year! As an American and as a prisoner for Christ, I have spent many hours praying and crying out to God for revival for this great nation. We all hope for the success of our nation and for America to be blessed, but without revival there can be no true success or blessing. As Ezra's cried out to God in repentance and the Israelites joined him in weeping bitterly and turning from their sin, I would like to ask you to join me in repenting and praying for revival. Me from inside of these prison walls and you on the outside," Pastor Saeed's letter begins.
The pastor cites Ezra 10:1, which reads, "Now while Ezra was praying, and while he was confessing, weeping, and bowing down before the house of God, a very large assembly of men, women, and children gathered to him from Israel; for the people wept very bitterly."
"Ezra re-built the spiritual walls of Jerusalem while Nehemiah re-built the physical walls. Therefore, please join me in rebuilding the spiritual wall of our beloved country," he writes.
The ACLJ has for the past several years urged the U.S. government to pressure Iran to release Abedini and three other American citizens currently imprisoned for their faith. However, the group slammed the Obama administration on Thursday after it threatened to abandon the Americans in the nuclear deal agreement with Iran.
"That is simply unbelievable. Refusing to discuss the Americans being held hostage by Iran at the bargaining table and rejecting any congressional attempt to make any deal with Iran contingent on the release of the Americans is unacceptable. It's quite frankly appalling," the law group wrote in an update on Thursday. "This is despicable. This is outrageous. And it is an insult to the captive Americans and their families."
The group added that President Obama's words are not to be trusted, as he previously promised that Abedini's release was his "top priority."
In his 35th birthday letter, however, Pastor Saeed urges Christians to refrain from bitterness against the government and instead focus their attention on prayer.
"In times of need we see how much government and authorities can influence our everyday life, and when we see that their decisions do not match with our beliefs and standards, our initial reaction is to blame the leadership or the situations surrounding us for our hardships. But the truth is that change has to start with us, just as a wave has power to lead it's surfer so by revival we, as the people, can help or push our leaders to follow their callings."
He continues, "Change starts with us. Revival starts with us. The first step to revival is praying together in unity as a nation. the National Day of Prayer is a great opportunity for us to come out and use the freedom that we have been given. So many Christians around the world are imprisoned and martyred for their faith in Jesus," Abedini wrote.
"You have the freedom to gather across the United States at your state capitol to pray. Please use this opportunity. Please use your freedom for the kingdom of God."
The ACLJ also encourages Christians to continue praying for Pastor Saeed, who is reportedly in failing health due to the grim conditions which have surrounded him for the past 2 ½ years.
"He continues to suffer for his faith in Christ, daily battling chronic pain from prison beatings. It's time for America to come together not only in prayer but action for Saeed and the persecuted Church globally," the group wrote.