Freed pastor Saeed Abedini has requested prayer for his relationship with his wife Naghmeh as court proceedings continue in her filing for legal separation.
“I am grateful for marriage counselors who have been helping me but my wife’s relationship with me is not good at this point, so we need prayer that she joins this counseling process with us,” the 35-year-old pastor wrote Feb. 14 in his first Facebook comments since his release in January from an Iranian prison where he had been held three-and-a-half years because of his Christian faith.
The Abedini family
“I see there is a LOVE story between us [supporters] as I went through hardship of imprisonment by you showing your support with sending hundreds & thousands of letters of encouragement and LOVE to the prison,” he wrote, noting “1000’s of cities and countries and locations gathering for prayer vigils, sending gifts to my wife and children…. You created a LOVE story that even Muslims in Iran talked about.”
His wife Naghmeh filed for legal separation from the pastor Jan. 26, the day he returned to Boise after resting for nearly a week at the Billy Graham Training Center at the Cove. March 19 is the next court date in the case – a Focus on Children proceeding designed to help parents and children cope with such issues as separation and divorce. She filed the case, she said, to prevent their children, 9-year-old Rebekka and 7-year-old Jacob, from being transported out of state.
“I have taken temporary legal action to make sure our children will stay in Idaho until this situation has been resolved,” she said when she filed the case. “In very difficult situations sometimes you have to establish boundaries while you work toward healing.” As recently as January, she expressed a desire for reconciliation with her husband.
She has accused him of a pornography addiction and spousal abuse, the details of which remain scant.
“Three months ago Saeed told me things he demanded I must do to promote him in the eyes of the public that I simply could not do any longer,” she said Jan. 27. “He threatened that if I did not the results would be the end of our marriage and the resulting pain this would bring to our children.”
Abedini has countered that “much” of what his wife has accused him of is untrue, and said as recently as Jan. 30 that he would refrain from addressing the issue in public and on social media until the family has made “significant progress in private” to repair his marriage, which he has said is under “great stress.”
The pastor had been imprisoned since Sept. 26, 2012, and was serving an eight-year sentence on charges he threatened national security by planting house churches in Iran years earlier. Prior to his imprisonment, he had been under house arrest since July 2012.
He was released with three other Americans in a prison swap amid nuclear disarmament negotiations between the U.S. and Iran. Abedini officially thanked President Barack Obama in a Jan. 26 letter.
“This letter stands as witness that God answers prayers,” Abedini wrote to Obama in a letter posted to Facebook, “because I am able to write this letter to you.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Diana Chandler is Baptist Press’ general assignment writer/editor.)