Saeed Abedini’s Imprisonment Reaches Day 1,000

Pastor Saeed Abedini has now been imprisoned because of his Christian faith for 1,000 days.

Several groups are marking the day, June 23rd, by sending 1,000 flowers to the U.S. Capitol to remind legislators of Saeed’s wrongful imprisonment at the hands of the Iranian government.

“Every five minutes across the globe, a Christian is killed because of their faith. Today marks day 1,000 that pastor Saeed will be spending in an Iranian prison cell for his Christian faith; 1,000 days of being away from his wife and two precious young children; 1,000 days of facing brutal beatings and torture,” said Rev. Patrick Mahoney, pastor of Church on the Hill in the nation’s capitol.

“We are leaving 1,000 flowers at the U.S. Capitol to remind members of Congress that millions of Christians are facing persecution and violence around the world and to demand they work for the immediate release of pastor Saeed and work to end this faith-based genocide.”

The 1,000 day mark was punctuated by a petition started by the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) that received one million signatures calling for Saeed’s immediate release.

“Pastor Saeed shouldn’t have to languish another single day in one of the world’s worst prisons. He shouldn’t be forced to endure another day of the pain from prison beatings. He shouldn’t have to miss another Father’s Day, birthday, or anniversary away from his loving wife and adoring young children,” the ACLJ stated.

The ACLJ and others are calling on the American negotiators working on a nuclear deal with Iran to include Saeed’s release as a requirement for the deal.  The deadline for a deal is June 30th.

Nine Dead In Charleston Church Shooting

A white gunman walked into a historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina on Wednesday night.  He sat in the prayer service for about an hour before he pulled a gun, opened fire and killed 9 people including the pastor who was also a state senator.

The gunman has been identified by the FBI as 21-year-old Dylann Roof of Lexington, South Carolina.  He was apprehended Thursday morning in Shelby, North Carolina, about three hours away from the shooting site.

“This is a situation that is unacceptable in any society and especially in our society and our city,” Charleston Police Chief Gregory Mullen said.

Officials confirmed that three men and six women were killed in the shooting.  The gunman reportedly reloaded five times during the assault.

Witnesses said that the pastor, Clementa Pinckney, tried to talk the gunman out of the attack. Sylvia Johnson, a cousin of the pastor who survived the assault.

“He just said, ‘I have to do it. You rape our women and you’re taking over our country,” Johnson said.

The incident is being investigated as a hate crime.

“The only reason that someone could walk into a church and shoot people praying is out of hate,” Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley said. “It is the most dastardly act that one could possibly imagine, and we will bring that person to justice. … This is one hateful person.”

Tennessee Pastor Forgives Man Who Murdered His Father

A Tennessee pastor is showing the true meaning of forgiveness and grace by forgiving the man who murdered his father 30 years ago.

Ron Hammer gunned down Wayne Robinson outside a Tennessee grocery store in 1986.  On Sunday, Hammer joined pastor Philip Robinson via Skype to talk about his conversion to Christ.  Hammer told New Vision Life Baptist Church that the forgiveness of Pastor Robinson “changed his life.”

“I gave my life to Christ in October of 1996, but I’ve never really received the full blessings that Christ wanted me to have until one day He whispered and told me, ‘Well, you haven’t confessed to the Robinson family.’ And I sat and wrote a letter to Mrs. Robinson (pastor’s mother) and it was 20 years after the crime had taken place. And I told [her] how I had taken your father’s life and how it was an accident and that I never meant to hurt anyone,” said Hammer to Robinson before his congregation on Sunday

Hammer had denied being the gunman for years.

Originally Robinson admitted he had trouble forgiving Hammer.

“I wanted them to pay the full price for their crime,” said Robinson. “A great deal of my life was hanging on their conviction. It felt that way. I figured they would do it again.”

When Hammer reached out 13 years later, Robinson found a path to forgiveness, sending a letter to Hammer that was life changing.

“That letter from you, Phillip, truly touched me,” Hammer told the pastor in front of his congregation. “The words of wisdom and what God had planted in your heart to tell me changed my life that day. I’m so blessed by the forgiveness that you have given me.”

Robinson and his mother even testified in favor of Hammer at a parole hearing that resulted in his release from prison in March.

Greg Laurie: U.S. Needs Israel More Than They Need Us

California pastor Greg Laurie told the thousands at Harvest Church and the millions around the world watching online that America needs Israel more than the other way around in a lesson on the end times.

Laurie said that Israel is at the eye of the hurricane when it comes to the great events of the end times and Jesus made it very clear that Israel is beloved of God.  He added those who bless Israel will be looked upon favorably by the Lord.

“One of the reasons God has blessed the United States is because of our support to Israel. … America needs Israel more than Israel needs America … because we need the blessing of God,” the pastor said.

 

Laurie reminded the parishioners that the Bible is the only book that clearly outlines what is going to happen in the end times.

“The Bible is the one book that dares to predict the future … with 100 percent accuracy,” he said, adding that about 30 percent of the Bible is prophecy, and that God wants us to know these prophecies. “The more we know about the next world, the better we’ll live in this one.”

Jailed Sudanese Pastors Denied Lawyers and Visitors

Two jailed Sudanese pastors facing criminal charges were moved to a high security prison where they are being denied any visitors including their lawyers.

The Muslim-dominated government has filed false charges against Christian pastors Rev. Peter Yen Reith and Yat Michael for spying, undermining the government and insulting religion.  Initially, the men were kept at low security military prison Omdurman.  Now, they have been rushed to high-security Kober Prison.

The move came after an American Pastor who visited the pair was found taking pictures and video from the prison waiting room.

The pastor’s lawyers tried to meet with their clients but were denied by the prison’s director who said they needed a court order.

“We are concerned by this development in the clergymen’s case. They already endured extended detention without access to their families at the beginning of this year, and they and their families should be spared further emotional distress,” Christian Solidarity Worldwide’s Chief Executive, Mervyn Thomas, said in a statement shared with The Christian Post.

Pastor William Devlin of Infinity Bible Church in New York has visited Sudan nine times in the last eight years.  He went to see the two men at the invitation of three local Sudanese pastors.

“Western pastors, African pastors, European pastors must go to Khartoum to advocate for these imprisoned pastors,” Devlin wrote. “Even if they cannot visit them, they can meet with their wives and support their wives and children financially.”

Naghmeh Abedini Asks European Officials For Help

The wife of wrongfully imprisoned pastor Saeed Abedini is turning to European leaders for help in her quest to free her husband.

Naghmeh Abedini visited with German officials and the European Parliament to speak with lawmakers who are committed to religious freedom around the world.  The German Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights quickly supported Naghmeh’s mission.

“I call upon Iran to quash Pastor Abedini’s sentence – and the sentences of all those imprisoned merely on account of their religious belief – without delay,” the commissioner said in a statement following the meeting. “Until he is released, I appeal to all those responsible in Iran to grant him urgently needed medical treatments, including outside the prison.”

A vigil at the Iranian Embassy in Germany was held by Naghmeh and German freedom advocates.

The meetings were arranged by the American Center for Law and Justice along with the German rights group Internationale Gesellschaft für Menschenrechte.

Tiffany Barrans of the ACLJ traveled with Abedini.

“This opportunity was invaluable to raise the plight of Pastor Saeed and the Christian community that suffers in Iran,” Barrans said.

The ACLJ has been advocating for Abedini’s release for years.

“Continued international pressure has helped free persecuted Christians before and we pray that it will again,” ACLJ said.

Nevada Teacher Bans Student Using John 3:16 In Assignment

A Nevada public charter school is under the microscope after a teacher refused to allow a student to reference John 3:16 in a project asking the students to describe themselves using a series of slides.

Mackenzie Frasier, a sixth-grader at Somerset Academy, is the daughter of a pastor and said she was proud of her Christian faith and its importance in her life.  She didn’t tell her parents about the incident until April when she discussed a leadership class assignment and said she was told not to use Christian references.

Her father, Pastor Tim Fraiser, wrote to the school asking for clarification on what his daughter had been told by her teacher.

“Can you please explain if this is true? Perhaps, she misunderstood you? Since I am certain you understand that this clearly infringes on my daughters/your students right to freedom of speech, I want to make sure we understand your instructions,” he wrote on April 29.

The school responded with a defense of blocking Christian expression from their school.

“When Mackenzie created the project with the expectation she would present the Biblical saying to the class, the matter became one of having a captive audience that would be subject to her religious beliefs. Had the assignment been designed to simply hand in for a grade, this would not have been an issue. Therefore, considering the circumstances of the assignment, Miss Jardine appropriately followed school law expectations by asking Mackenzie to choose an alternate quote for the presentation,” Assistant Principal Jenyan Martinez wrote.

The Liberty Institute is now involved in the situation and demanding the school allow Mackenzie’s Constitutional rights and to allow resubmission of the project with her Bible verse included in the presentation.

The charter school management company that runs Somerset Academy said they are investigating the situation.

“We consider the civil liberties of our students to be of utmost importance,” said Colin Bringhurst of Academica Nevada. “As such, we strive to comply in every way with the directives set forth by the U.S. Department of Education with regard to religious expression in public schools.”

Mackenzie told the Last Vegas Review-Journal she’s standing up for her rights to be a good example to her younger brothers.

Pastor Shot Outside Connecticut Church

A Connecticut Pastor, outside his church on Sunday morning placing American flags in honor of Memorial Day, was shot by an unknown assailant.

Rev. Augustus Sealy, 54, is pastor of First Church of the Nazarene in Hartford, Connecticut.  He was planting small American flags in the church yard when someone drove past in a black car and opened fire.

Police say that they received multiple 911 calls and found Rev. Sealy shot in the leg and shoulder.  The pastor’s femur was shattered and a metal rod was placed in the leg to stabilize it.

His wife Sharon told the Hartford Courant that while her husband was in a lot of pain he should make a full recovery from his wounds.

“He hasn’t lost any hope,” Sealy’s wife told NBC Connecticut. “You know, this is something that was really terrible and shouldn’t have happened and we’ve already prayed for that person who actually committed the crime.”

Rev. Eustance McDonald of Brooklyn, New York came to the church to preach at the 11 a.m. service and spoke from the book of Samuel where King David and his men had their town burned down by an enemy but did not lose heart.

“Misfortune in life comes to us all,” he said, telling the congregation that what matters most is their response. “You have to go to a place of hope.”

Rev. Henry Brown, who has been working to end gun violence in Hartford, came to the church after the incident to comfort and counsel church members.

“I am tired of people being shot,” he said. “The devil is not going to win here.”

Ex-Boxing Champion’s Mansion To Become Church

At one point, it was a spectacle of boxing trophies, lavish parties and even a few tigers roaming around the ground.

Now, the former mansion of legendary boxer Mike Tyson is being turned into a church after the landowner who bought the mansion at auction donated it to a local church.

The building in Southington, Ohio was built with gold-plated furnishings and even a jacuzzi room with mirrored ceilings.  The mansion still has many of the extravagant touches but has been abandoned since the boxer went bankrupt and was forced to sell almost all of his possessions.

The mansion was given to Living Word Sanctuary that plans to have the building converted to a ministry center by the end of the year.  They’ve even invited Mike Tyson to come and attend the first service in the building when it’s ready to go.

“How we stumbled upon the place was really God’s grace because we had no intentions of looking…,”said Pastor Nick Dejacimo of Living Word.  The church plans to have Vacation Bible Schools and nature events at the grounds along with weekly worship services and Bible studies.

The church is currently meeting inside a YMCA in Warren, Ohio.

Prison Guards Say Saeed Abedini Won’t Go Free Until He Denies Christ

The wife of wrongly imprisoned pastor Saeed Abedini says the guards at the prison where he’s being held tell him that unless he renounces Christ, he will never be released.

“Last week had been quite difficult for Saeed. He has been under a lot of pressure and attack from the hardliners. The guards have also been threatening Saeed that he will never go free and additional charges (and years) will be added to his sentence (which they have done to other Christians and fellow inmates),” said the pastor’s wife, Naghmeh Abedini, according to American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ).

“They continually threaten Saeed that the only key to his freedom is denying Christ and returning to Islam. Saeed refuses to deny Christ and continues to be a light and witness in that dark prison. These threats, coupled with the fact that there have been mass executions during the last week in Rajayee Shahr prison, have really taken their toll on Saeed. He asks for prayer for continued strength,” she said.

Saeed has been imprisoned for more than two and a half years for his Christian faith.

The ACLJ is calling on U.S. officials to raise the situation with Abedini when they return to the negotiating table with Iran on April 21st.

“Our government must do everything in its power to bring pastor Saeed home. It is absolutely critical that the Obama administration and the State Department continue to demand that our innocent citizens — especially pastor Saeed who is suffering only because of his religious beliefs — be returned home,” said the organization. “He suffers from injuries. He is separated from his family. He is persecuted for his faith. He is surrounded by fellow inmates being dragged to the gallows. The thought is unbearable.”