Ps Saeed: The American/Iranian Pastor who has been incarcerated in an Iranian Prison since 2012 presents an interesting dilemma to Christians.
He was arrested and put in prison in 2012 while he was in Iran building a state sponsored orphanage. Since his imprisonment there have been over one million signatures on a petition calling for his release and there have been over 250,000 letters written to the United Nations about his situation. Ps Saeed’s wife has been a passionate and vocal advocate calling for her beloved husband’s release. She has met with President Obama and the President has certainly added his weight to the call for Ps Saeed to be released.
Churches and Christian Ministries around the world have been praying and campaigning for the Pastor’s release. To some degree his story has captured the hearts and minds of Christians around the globe. May I even suggest he has become the Poster boy for the persecuted Christian.
And now this…..
Ps Saeed’s wife, Naghmeh has come out and confessed that her husband is a wife abuser saying that he started his abuse of her two years before they were married. This abused has been Physical, Emotional, Psychological and Sexual abuse and that this abuse has continued throughout their marriage even over Skype calls while he has been in prison.
Naghmeh has announced she is withdrawing from public life.
Now I am not overly familiar with this story (in terms of being active in campaigning for Saeed’s release), but imagine you were one of the 250,000 people who had written letters, or churches that have prayed, or maybe you went and heard Naghmeh speak and were moved to give money for the cause. How do you feel now? How should we response to this story. It would be fair to feel burned and possibly a tad cynical particularly in future situations like this.
Well for what its worth: this is what I think:
1) Simply because Ps Saeed’s character didn’t live up to our expectations, this should not diminish our passion as Christians to stand up for persecuted minority faith based groups or persecuted Christians around the world. There are many thousands, if not millions of people who are right now abused, persecuted, hunted and hated because of their faith. Some are in prison, some are Asylum Seeker camps, some are home, fearful. The bible calls for us to speak up on their behalf. To pray. To advocate for them. Ps Saeed should not impact that in negative way one little bit.
2) Regardless of Ps Saeed’s seemingly appalling track record of dealing with his wife, he is still a human being and therefore should be treated humanly in the Iranian Prison.
3) How hard must it have been for Naghmeh to speak up. Domestic Violence can visit any marriage. Often the wife in a Christian Marriage will not speak up due to the expectation of being the good faithful wife and also the pressure around the vows ‘until death do us part’. I champion Naghmeh for finally speaking up. May it empower women the world over to say enough is enough. In Australia we have a Domestic Violence epidemic and we need at every opportunity to encourage women in abusive situations to speak up and get help.
And that’s what I think about that.
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Ps Peter Pilt