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Rajai Shahr Prison, Iran

Rajai Shahr Prison, Iran

Many of you are familiar with the story of Saeed Abedini, an American pastor imprisoned in Iran. The ACLJ has just published a Christmas letter he wrote, and I am riveted by this man’s faith and hope in the midst of the extreme physical hell and torture he’s enduring. As the letter says, this is his third Christmas in prison; America hasn’t yet brought him home.

If a man who is being slowly murdered for leaving Islam can rejoice in the true meaning of Christmas this much, how much more the rest of us?

#SaveSaeed – you can help!

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Rajai Shahr Prison 2014

Merry Christmas!

These days are very cold here. My small space beside the window is without glass making most nights unbearable to sleep. The treatment by fellow prisoners is also quite cold and at times hostile. Some of my fellow prisoners don’t like me because I am a convert and a pastor. They look at me with shame as someone who has betrayed his former religion. The guards can’t even stand the paper cross that I have made and hung next to me as a sign of my faith and in anticipation of celebrating my Savior’s birth. They have threatened me and forced me to remove it. This is the first Christmas that I am completely without my family; all of my family is presently outside of the country. These conditions have made this upcoming Christmas season very hard, cold and shattering for me. It appears that I am alone with no one left beside me.

These cold and brittle conditions have made me wonder why God chose the hardest time of the year to become flesh and why He came to the earth in the weakest human condition (as a baby). Why did God choose the hardest place to be born in the cold weather? Why did God choose to be born in a manger in a stable, which is very cold, filthy and unsanitary with an unpleasant smell? Why did the birth have to be in such a way that it was not only hard physically, but also socially? It must have brought such shame for Mary and her fiancé that she was pregnant before marriage in the religious society of that time.

Dear sisters and brothers, the fact of the Gospel is that it is not only the story of Jesus, but it is the key of how we are to live and serve like Jesus. Today we like Him should come out of our safe comfort zone in order to proclaim the Word of Life and Salvation though faith in Jesus Christ and the penalty of sin that He paid on the cross and to proclaim His resurrection. We should be able to tolerate the cold, the difficulties and the shame in order to serve God. We should be able to enter into the pain of the cold dark world. Then we are able to give the fiery love of Christ to the cold wintry manger of those who are spiritually dead. It might be necessary to come out of the comfort of our lives and leave the loving embrace of our family to enter the manger of the lives of others, such as it has been for me for the third consecutive Christmas. It may be that we will be called fools and traitors and face many difficulties, but we should crucify our will and wishes even more until the world hears and tastes the true meaning of Christmas.

Christmas means that God came so that He would enter your hearts today and transform your lives and to replace your pain with indescribable joy.

Christmas is the manifestation of the radiant brightness of the Glory of God in the birth of a child named Emmanuel, which means God is with us.

Christmas is the day that the heat of the life-giving fire of God’s love shone in the dark cold wintry frozen hearts and burst forth in this deadly wicked world.

The same way that the heat from the earth’s core melts the hard stones in itself and produces lava, the fiery love of God, Jesus Christ, through the virgin Mary’s womb came to earth on Christmas to melt the hard heart of sin and wickedness of the world and removes them from our life. In the same process, the work of the Holy Spirit is a fiery rain of God’s Holiness and Mercy that flows into our body, soul and spirit and brings the light of Christ into us and through us making this dark, cold, wintry world into radiant burning brightness. He is turning our world into a world full of peace, joy, and love that is so different than the dark, cold, and wintry world that we used to live in. Hallelujah!

So this Christmas let the lava-like love of Christ enter into the depth of your heart and make you fiery, ready to pay any cost in order to bring the same lava love to the cold world around you, transforming them with the true message of Christmas.

Pastor Saeed Abedini

Soaking in the lava love of Christ

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Please visit the ACLJ’s page discussing this letter.

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A prison cell, in which one waits, hopes…and is completely dependent on the fact that the door of freedom has to be opened from the outside, is not a bad picture of Advent. -Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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©2014 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

 

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Saeed Prayer Vigil

Tonight on TBN I heard Naghmeh Abedini, wife of imprisoned American pastor Saeed Abedini, speak at length about their history and present situation. I learned how they became Christians and Americans despite being born into devout Muslim families in Iran, how they met, and how many other times they’ve been arrested for their charity and faith. Naghmeh was very candid about her struggles with fear and anxiety, but demonstrated that the peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7) is real.

Evidently Saeed’s faith and passion for the gospel is so vibrant that despite horrific torture he has other prisoners singing praises to God along with him! This is a man who has death staring him in the face, and yet he does not waver from the belief that God is good. How many of us can attest to faith like that? As I listened to Naghmeh I had to ask myself how many of us Americans would be willing to fight for, be imprisoned for, and even die for our beliefs. I wondered how many of us, when faced with beatings, violations, and isolation, would stick to our guns and not renounce our commitments to freedom and our faith.

The church all over the world is under attack. Whether we are brothers and sisters in the Christian faith or believers in freedom and human rights in general, September 26th is a day to unite on these issues and cry out as one. Whether you are a Christian or not, whether you believe in God or not, there are organized forces in this world that are hell bent on subjugating you and forcing you into a life of slavery. These forces are raping, pillaging, murdering, conquering, and enslaving people who are different from them. The crucifixions and beheadings of children in Iraq are a perfect example of how evil these groups are.

Take a stand for free will and the rights of others no matter what they believe, and join millions of others in shouting out that we stand as one for those who are under attack. As someone who puts my faith and hope in Someone infinitely more powerful than myself, I expect that He will reward this petition and do miracles.

Naghmeh Abedini on Twitter

Save Saeed Campaign Reaching New People in Brazil

And yes, I still wear my hot pink #SaveSaeed t-shirt proudly!

Save Saeed Shirt

 

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Wherever there is prayer, there is the danger of His own immediate action. -C.S. Lewis

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©2014 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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James Foley

Oh, God, no, please no… I think that’s what I said when I read the headline today declaring that American journalist James Foley had been savagely beheaded by the demonic gang of terrorist thugs called ISIS. Frankly my brain makes up its own acronyms for ISIS, like Ignorant Savages Instigating Slaughter. I know these people need the love of Jesus, but their merciless rampage of death and destruction, which has included the beheading and crucifixion of Christian children, makes my blood boil red, white, and blue.

I first became aware that Foley was missing in Syria while writing my December 2013 post More Americans Left Behind. In that post I featured a number of Americans who were being held in other countries and strongly questioned why the Obama administration has not done more to bring them home. James Foley had been a captive for nearly two years, for example. Supposedly a rescue mission was mounted on behalf of him and other Americans this summer, but it allegedly failed because the intelligence wasn’t good.

The videotaped beheading of an American is a direct terrorist strike at our nation. It’s a strike at you and me, and I wish more Americans had the mentality of the New Yorkers in Spiderman: You mess with one of us, you mess with all of us. Americans should not be at the mercy of regimes like Iran and North Korea; we don’t bow to them. We should not be tolerating the ongoing torture of Pastor Saeed Abedini or the criminal mistreatment of Kenneth Bae.

“Oh!” some say. “But they’re Christians, or Jews, or they put themselves in a dangerous situation. This is the price they pay for taking those risks.” We would all be living under a foreign language facist freak show if it wasn’t for the risk takers among us. These guys didn’t go to another nation to go skydiving or dabble in extreme wakeboarding. They traveled to these other countries to make a difference, to save lives, to soothe souls, to shine a light on the reality of the situation in these dark places.

By all accounts I’ve read, James Foley was one of these people. His parents say he went to Syria to show the world what was truly happening there. He ultimately gave his life for that. Thankfully most websites that show his execution video have edited out the part where his throat is cut and his severed head is lying on the ground. But you can still see most of it, in which he reads some sort of prefabricated statement.

His voice does not shake, he holds his head up high. His back is straight. His spirit does not appear to be broken. Knowing he’s about to have his throat slashed open by the masked coward with the British accent next to him, he doesn’t panic or scream. He faced death with courage and dignity. He didn’t have to. But he did. It is an image that will stay with me forever.

Earlier tonight I had to ask myself a question: am I more outraged that these (ooh, I’ll omit the next scathing acronym) primitive killers that Osama bin Laden didn’t even want anything to do with executed James Foley? Or am I more outraged that the United States didn’t get him back in time? How many more Americans will die because of erratic and spineless foreign policy and the fact that American tax dollars actually do go to terrorist groups and rogue nations? Who’s next? Whose family has to know that their son’s murder will be broadcast to billions of people around the world?

This shouldn’t be happening. It makes me sick. It makes me angry. One of our own has just been taken out into the desert by a group that has less morality than a fossilized amoeba. They believe their god lauds them for killing infidels, killing randomly, killing other Muslims, killing Christians, raping, and pillaging, and selling Christian women as sex slaves. It’s clear to me who their god really is, and that master will betray them when their last breath is taken.

There will be a lot of debate as to what the American and British responses should be to Foley’s murder, but first and foremost we must continue to pray. We must work harder to bring home the other Americans imprisoned in foreign countries. We must not allow Westerners fighting for groups like ISIS to return home as free citizens. We must demand that our government stop giving our money to groups and nations that pose a threat to our own people, to human rights, and to freedom.

And we must never, ever forget James Foley. For a brief moment in time, in that orange suit with the black microphone clipped to it, I saw all of us, our nation, with a knife to its throat. Because that is what ISIS would do to every one of us if they had the opportunity. These radicals would imprison us, enslave us, rape us, torture us, and brutally kill us. If you question the existence of evil, all you have to do is watch one of their videos. All you have to do is read one story about what they’re doing to women and children in Iraq.

Now is the time for our nation to unite against this evil. Now is the time for us to step up on behalf of our brothers and sisters in Iraq and other places stained by the blood that ISIS spills so freely. If we believe in freedom, and justice, and equality, and women’s rights, and human rights, we cannot sit passively by while this brave proponent of the First Amendment was forced to kneel in the devil’s playground and enter eternity at blade’s edge.

Regardless of what action you believe needs to be taken– military, sanctions, covert manhunt, prayer, financial aid to ISIS victims, or whatever else– do something. Contact your elected representatives. Make a donation. Make your voice heard. James Foley was one of us, and we’re Americans. Our forebears didn’t sit idly by when such horrors happened. Neither should we. ISIS messed with one of us. They should find out the hard way they messed with all of us.

As I go to bed tonight, I say to Jim Foley, who walked into the belly of the beast to show the world truth, I’m so sorry we didn’t come for you much sooner. I hope the last thing you thought of on this earth was how much you are loved.

Gary Farvel, Indystar.com. Note that James Foley was formerly a reporter for the Stars and Stripes.

Gary Farvel, Indystar.com. Note that James Foley was formerly a reporter for the Stars and Stripes.

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In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. -Martin Luther King Jr.

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Many people question if James Foley was actually beheaded or if that’s him in the video at all. They are concerned that this death was staged in order to justify another war. This link containing videos to this effect was sent to me by a concerned citizen. Judge for yourself.

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©2014 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

 

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This sickening story came to my attention over the weekend:

Obama Ignores Pregnant Wife of American Sentenced to Sharia Death By Hanging for Not Renouncing Christian Faith

Meriam Yahia Ibrahim is the pregnant 27 year-old wife of a naturalized American citizen. She and their 18 month-old son Martin are being held by the authorities in Sudan, who plan to let her give birth, then flog her and put her to death. Martin, who is ill, and the unborn child are Americans. (more…)

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Reblogged from Right from Yaad: Behind the Boko Haram headlines, slavery in Africa is the real crisis. The original post is at The Conversation.Please give it a read.

The world needs to know that slavery is alive and well– and a growing problem. The above article by Emma Christopher at the University of Sydney highlights slavery issues in African countries.While the rise of radical Islam is the real reason for the increase in slavery and abductions, Christopher has some powerful facts and figures to illustrate just how widespread slavery there is.

Slavery has always existed in Africa and that predates the European slave trade that began in the mid-15th century. The Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, and Arabs, collectively, used Africa as a source for slaves over thousands of years. Africans enslaved other Africans as well.

With the advent of Islam around 610 A.D., the slave trade flourished between Muslims and kingdoms in western Africa. When the Europeans showed up, some Africans sold other Africans to them. Slavery was already big business and some African kingdoms profited from it.

Today Muslims are capturing Christians to make them slaves, including kidnapping Christian girls and forcing them to convert to Islam and become good little veiled wives and/or selling them as sex slaves– either way, they’re being raped. This long legacy of human rights violations continues.

Here in the United States sex slavery is a problem and now and then you’ll see a story in the news about wealthy people, often immigrants, being caught keeping slaves. What hits the news is just the tip of the iceberg. From 600,000 to 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders every year. Human trafficking is the largest growing criminal industry in the world.

Right From Yaad

This Article was taken from http://www.theconversation.com

Link here: http://theconversation.com/behind-the-boko-haram-headlines-slavery-in-africa-is-the-real-crisis-26379

Behind the Boko Haram headlines, slavery in Africa is the real crisis

by Emma Christopher

The mass kidnapping of schoolgirls by terrorist group Boko Haram in Nigeria is neither a new nor rare occurrence, though this does not make it any less shocking. Boko Haram has been active in Nigeria for five years and is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Africa’s slavery crisis.

In Nigeria, there are “tens of thousands of people bought and sold every year”, according to Africa expert Benjamin Lawrance. The majority are children: in 2003, the International Labour Organisation estimated that as many as six million Nigerian children had been trafficked at some time in their lives.

In Africa as a whole, the scale of the problem is vast and far beyond the resources currently allocated to fight it, let alone sufficient to…

View original post 622 more words

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Freedom in Iran

Iran: Letter from Karaj Prison.

Out of support for a fellow blogger and believer in freedom of speech, I’m reposting this powerful letter featured on the Gatestone Institute’s site. There are Americans imprisoned in Iran under similar conditions.  (more…)

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From Barnabas Aid on December 9th:

Saeed’s sufferings intensify

…Meanwhile, Iranian-American pastor Saeed Abedini is suffering grievously in Rajai Shahr Prison, which is one of the deadliest in the world.

He told relatives who were able to visit him last week that he has been robbed at knifepoint several times, losing the few personal hygiene items he has been able to obtain. (more…)

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