Naghmeh Panahi, the ex-wife of persecuted Iraqi pastor Saeed Abedini, has thrown her support behind Proverbs 31 Ministries president Lysa TerKeurst in the wake of her divorce announcement.
"My husband, life partner and father of my children, Art TerKeurst, has been repeatedly unfaithful to me with a woman he met online, bringing an end to our marriage of almost 25 years," TerKeurst wrote in a blog post titled 'Rejection, Heartache, and a Faithful God.'
After learning of her husband's infidelity last year, "I was still committed to doing everything I could think of to make our story one of restoration, even in the face of the worst kind of betrayal imaginable," says TerKeurst. "I prayed continually. I sought counsel from family and other wise friends. And Art and I even made repeated trips across the country together for intensive counseling especially designed for marriages in crisis. But sadly, though I have repeatedly forgiven and accepted him back, he has continued to abuse substances, be unfaithful, and refused to be truthful to me and our family."
"What can you do for us? I'd simply ask you to pray. Pray for my precious children and grandchildren. Pray for me. Pray for our team at Proverbs 31. And yes, please, please pray for Art."
While some criticized TerKeurst's decision, Naghmeh Panahi, ex-wife of former persecuted pastor Saeed Abedini, voiced her support for the popular blogger in a lengthy Facebook post.
"I was so heartbroken to hear of this news today ... It is the sad condition of many lives/marriages and the church. It is something I have cried over, wept over, and prayed about for the last few years. People ask me what I have learned most during my journey. There is so much to share. Today after reading this blog by Lysa TerKeurst of Proverbs 31 Ministries, I felt led to share a glimpse of some of the things God has been graciously teaching me," she said.
Naghmeh, who had advocated for the release of her husband from 2012 almost until Abedini was freed from an Iranian jail in January 2016, divorced the pastor in April, citing continued psychological and sexual abuse in her marriage, along with other allegations.
In her Facebook update, Naghmeh said that through her ordeal, God showed her that "not everyone who calls themselves Christians truly are Christians" and that "the most loving thing the church and believers can do is to separate themselves from such person and not even associate with such a person (an unrepentant sinner)."
She said that through her own pain, she has also learned that "no amount of submission helps" and that "we are NOT to submit to abuse and corruption. It is not honoring to God. That we are to obey God first and foremost."
"God has used my suffering to humble me and bring me to a place of dependance [sic] on Him and His Word," she wrote. "To bring me to a place of great hunger to read His Word and ask the Holy Spirit to help me obey it. I can say that I am so very thankful for how God has used suffering in my life to reveal so much of Himself and His Word and to draw me close to Him."
In addition to serving as the president of Proverbs 31 Ministries, TerKeurst is the author of several New York Times best-sellers. The ministry describes its mission in this way: "We are real women offering real-life solutions to those striving to maintain life's balance, in spite of today's hectic pace and cultural pull away from godly principles."
While she will take a brief break from Proverbs 31, TerKeurst says she will continue on with her ministry and speaking engagements.
"Many people think Proverbs 31 is a picture of a perfect woman; but the Proverbs 31 woman is, at her core, someone who seeks the Lord in everything she does and trusts Him wholeheartedly with her life. Our mission is to meet women where they are in the real, hard places we all experience, and to intersect God's Word right there. We are simply a group of women sold out to saying yes to God-and He truly does the rest."