Community Prays for Imprisoned Pastor

By Mallory Lane

Published 09/26 2013 06:18PM

Updated 09/30 2013 10:36AM

BELLEFONTE, CENTRE COUNTY - One year ago Thursday, American Pastor Saeed Abedini was arrested and taken to Evin Prison in Iran.

Pastor Saeed was working to build an orphanage in Iran.

On January 27, 2013, he was convicted of undermining Iran's national security by working with Christian house churches between 2000 and 2005.

He was sentenced to eight years in Evin prions, where his family says he's been tortured and beaten for his faith.

Thursday, his family is reaching out to continue spreading their husband and father's story around the world, even here in our region.

About 100 people were in Bellefonte Thursday to pray for the pastor and his family, a family most people in the community don't even know.

"I heard the story one night while I was driving," Monteca Biesel said.

Stories come in all shapes and sizes, from all kinds of people.

"It just really pulled on my heart strings because I could just imagine what this family is going through," Biesel said.

For Biesel, this story comes in a prayer. About two months ago, she started talking to Naghmeh Abedini.

"We sort of developed a friendship," Biesel said. "She's been telling me the situation that's going on. I wanted to have people be aware of Pastor Saeed's situation."

"There are a lot of people all over the world just like Pastor Saeed that are in prison and persecuted and tortured for their faith, so we're here to lift them up," Joe Rose, Pastor of Nittany Bible Church said.

Pastor Saeed's story touched Rose, too.

"As a father, as a husband, I can empathize with where he is," he said. "Even in the midst of horrible situations, he is standing up for his faith. If he can do that in the situation he's in, I can definitely do that in my life as well."

Christine Sorvec doesn't know the pastor either, but fells compelled to pray.

"I knew I had to come," Sorvec said. "We need to stand up and be firm and speak up, or at least be physically present to show our support."

Pastor Saeed became an American citizen in 2010. His wife says prison officials have offered to let him go if he denounces his Christian religion, but so far, he has refused to do so.

For more information on Pastor Saeed's story, click here.

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