Occasionally a little perspective can go a long way.
The past several weeks I've been stewing a bit over something most people rarely spend any time thinking about, let alone stewing about. You know...ministry stuff. Then I began stewing over the fact that most other people never bother to stew about what I was stewing about. Whole lot o' stewing goin' on, yet not enough to satisfy me. All the stewing was making me grumpy so I considered writing a blog or two about it. I was thinking about titles like, "Why aren't all these dummies stewing about the same thing I'm stewing about?" Or, "Why aren't the dummies I'm stewing about taking corrective measures so as to abate my stewing?"
But the blog has been uncharacteristically silent the past couple of weeks. Fortunately I had managed to maintain enough sense to keep from spewing my stewing onto others' computer screens. Sounds pretty unpleasant doesn't it? Well, it's not that I didn't want to. I was providentially overloaded with other assignments and suffered some writer's block. I have noticed cases in which God has been gracious enough to prevent me from making an even bigger fool of myself than normal. This was one of those.
I only realized it was one such instance when I stumbled across something a member of my church posted on Facebook this afternoon. It reminded me of something I had considered writing about earlier at the beginning of September, but had forgotten in the midst of my self-pitiful stew. I did some "Googling" and learned about a man named Saeed Abedini being held in Evin Prison.
Evin Prison is in the northwest of Tehran, the capitol city of Iran. This particular prison has gained an infamous reputation as the place where Iran's political prisoners rot while awaiting trial. We may think the American idea of the right to a "speedy trial" is somewhat of a joke, but in Iran the government doesn't even pretend to be motivated. Many a prisoner has died at Evin while awaiting a trial that likely failed to be so much as mentioned at a calendar meeting. Saeed Abedini has been biding his time at Evin for two years and one week now.
Actually, to say he has been biding his time makes it sound like he is spending his days languishing on a stainless steel cot, reading mail and writing letters, then taking an hour break to shoot hoops in the yard. That's not how it works in Iran. There are serious beatings to contend with, the likes of which have apparently caused Saeed severe internal injuries. Aside from a short stay in a private hospital during which he did not receive necessary surgical treatments, Saeed has been denied medical treatment entirely.
As you may have guessed by now, Saeed Abedini is a Christian. That is why the doctors and nurses at Evin refuse to treat his injuries. That is why he received and for all we know continues to receive beatings. In fact, that is why he's in prison in the first place. Saeed, an American citizen, lived in Idaho with his wife and two children. But he's from Iran. When he returned there for the purposes of visiting relatives and building an orphanage he was picked up by the Revolutionary Guard and thrown in prison. His crime is being a Christian.
I'm an idiot, but I'm glad I was prevented from putting more proof into writing these past several weeks. I don't think what I was and in fact still continue to stew about is an unimportant issue by any means. But until I can find a way to think about it in terms that actually encourage rather than discourage other Christians I had best keep it under my hat.
The fact of the matter is that Saeed Abedini would no doubt love to have the freedom to discuss Christian faith and practice unhindered and in the open. Instead he is wasting away in a far corner of the world, wondering if he will see his wife and two kids again before one of his unidentified internal injuries takes him to meet Jesus face to face. Given his faith in Christ and the suffering he endures Saeed may be hoping the face to face meeting with Jesus comes sooner rather than later. His family will eventually join him one way or another. But given the predicament Saeed and others like him (and there are many others like him) find themselves in the following occurs to me: Taking for granted the freedom I enjoy to worship Jesus; let alone write about it and even complain about how poorly and haphazardly it is done in many cases, to take that freedom for granted is to do a terrible disservice to my persecuted brother in Christ.
What am I going to do about it? I suppose I'll sign the online petition to free Saeed Abedini, because I'm sure Iran's president Hassan Rouhani checks that website first thing every morning and twice before he goes to bed at night. I guess I can pray for Saeed. And for several weeks at least I think I will take some time to learn about more stories like that of Saeed Abedini and share them here. I don't believe Hassan Rouhani will subscribe to my blog. But maybe you will. And maybe you will join me in praying for Christians suffering unspeakable injustice.
Occasionally a little perspective can go a long way.
You can look into it yourself. Most of what I learned about Saeed Abedini came from beheardproject.com.