Many are calling the release of Pastor Saeed Abedini a miracle and testimony to the power of prayer. While there is certainly plenty of truth in that, there was also a strategy involved. Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) worked tirelessly in connection with the release of Pastor Saeed Abedini. He says his "three-point strategy" was to first, "get the State Department engaged. Secondly, we knew that we had to work with the international community as well. And, finally, here at home, we knew that it was vital to get members of Congress involved in the fight to free Pastor Saeed."
The ACLJ immediately recognized the imprisonment of Pastor Saeed Abedini as an attack on his Christian religious freedom and reeled out multiple petitions to raise awareness and help orchestrate his release. He said the two-fold goal was to, "keep Pastor Saeed alive in one of the world's most dangerous prisons -- and work to secure his release."
Though President Obama saw the release of Pastor Saeed as being positive and denies that any of the Americans were used as a "bargaining chip" in nuclear negotiations, politicians such as Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio saw the exchange as being an uneven one because four innocent Americans were being exchanged for seven Iranian war criminals and the lifting of sanctions on Iran, which included sanctions on their oil industry.
During his time in prison, Pastor Saeed was threatened and forced to endure abuse, including being moved to prisons with horrendous conditions, each one worse than the previous one, and his only crime was his Christian faith.
Now that Iran's sanctions have been lifted, they will likely add to the already unstable and merchandise flooded oil market. They have been storing up oil in tankers at sea as negotiations have been taking place, and they have been waiting on sanctions to lift so that they could begin selling again. Many believe that the current plummet of oil prices and flood of oil inventory may bring about the next stock market crash, and it's thought that this one would be worse than the one that happened in 2008.
Even so, Pastor Saeed's release is certainly a blessing and a victory. The ACLJ notes, " With the release of Pastor Saeed, this case comes to a close. Our attention is now focused on the plight of numerous other persecuted Christians around the world. As we rejoice that Pastor Saeed is now free, we continue our work to protect Christians under attack because of their faith."