Human rights leaders will join the wife of imprisoned American pastor Saeed Abedini at a White House prayer vigil Thursday night to mark the two-year anniversary of his jailing in Iran for his Christian faith
The event in Washington will be followed by 500 prayer vigils worldwide Friday, the anniversary date.
In a statement for WND, Nagmeh Abedini, the pastor’s wife, said she and her children pray for nothing less than a miracle.
“The kids and I are longing to see Saeed returned home safely to us. The kids have been suffering for too long. Our family is ready. It is time,” she said. “We are praying for a miracle.”
She said her hope is that “as thousands gather together on September 26, our governments and leaders will be reminded of the importance of religious freedom for all and continue to pressure Iran to secure Saeed’s release.”
In a statement, Samaritan’s Purse President Franklin Graham said Abedini faces new threats to his safety “as ISIS militants imprisoned in the same jail are threatening his life.”
WND reported in August that Rajai Shahr prison inmates who were affiliated with ISIS were making death threats against the American pastor.
Abedini has told his family members he fears for his life after he was told the ISIS prisoners plan to murder him because of his Christian faith, according to the American Center for Law and Justice.
ISIS is responsible for crucifixions, torture, executions, the burial of living victims and the beheading of children.
American Center for Law and Justice Executive Director Jordan Sekulow told WND the ISIS threats add a more dangerous dimension to Abedini’s plight.
“The ISIS threats against pastor Saeed are extremely dangerous. ISIS is a brutally violent offshoot of al-Qaida in Iraq, proving themselves far more violent than even al-Qaida itself. ISIS is terrorizing and massacring Christians throughout Iraq and Syria,” he said.
ACLJ Senior Council Jay Sekulow and Jordan Sekulow will be part of the White House prayer event.
Also in a statement to WND, Jordan Sekulow said that since Abedini’s imprisonment, the pastor “has become the face of the persecuted Christian church worldwide, one of many Christians around the world who face imprisonment, beatings and even death for their faith.”
“As the world’s eye turns to violence against Christians in the Middle East, we raise a united voice in urging Iran to free pastor Saeed and grant him clemency. It’s time for Saeed to come home,” Sekulow said.
The event also is being held as Iranian President Hassan Rouhani visits New York for the U.N. General Assembly and the next round of nuclear talks.
Rouhani tweeted about his meetings and talks: “If we are able to reach a nuclear agreement, a new atmosphere would emerge in U.S.-Iran relations, which I believe would benefit both nations.”
He also tweeted: “Re ‘historic opportunity’ in Iran Talks in NYC, we should all take advantage of it. This is something all parties involved should bear in mind.”
WND previously reported a growing number of human rights activists believe the Obama administration has taken minimal steps to win the release of the American pastor.
One of those experts is William Murray, president of the Religious Freedom Coalition, who told WND the Obama administration doesn’t see religion the same way a Christian would.
“He sees religion as a ‘tradition,’ as in the way Joe Biden says he’s from a Catholic tradition,” Murray said. “Obama, like most secularists, cannot understand religion affecting the lives of those that believe outside the setting of a church, hence his reference to freedom of worship that he confuses with freedom of religion.”
Abedini was jailed over his Christian faith after he returned to Iran to continue work on social services projects intended to benefit Iranians.