Almost two years have passed since Pastor Saeed Abedini was imprisoned in Iran and tonight, on the eve of his capture, hundreds gathered in Lafayette Square in Washington, D.C., to take part in a prayer vigil in his honor.
Speakers at the event included Billy Graham’s son Franklin Graham, Pastor Saeed’s wife, Naghmeh, their two children Rebekah and Jacob, as well as Jordan Sekulow and Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ). Be Heard Project launched the global prayer vigil campaign that will take place Saturday night worldwide. They will be held in all 50 states and in over 30 countries.
Upon the stage with #Savesaeed as the background slogan, a band played worship music as Christian attendees crowded the lawn. Jay and Jordan Sekulow, who are representing the Abedini family, began the event by explaining the dire situation Saeed Abedini is in and then proceeded to welcome his wife to the stage.
Abedini shared a letter that her husband had sent to their daughter for her eighth birthday, which encouraged her to trust that God is in control.
“In your mind you are asking: why Jesus isn’t answering your prayers and the prayers of all of the people around the world praying for my release and for me to be home with you and our family?” the letter read. “The answer to the why is the who. Who is in control? Lord Jesus Christ is in control.”
Tears filled Abedini’s eyes as she brought her speech to an end. She then introduced Franklin Graham, calling him a father figure, spiritual adviser and huge supporter for her family.
Graham immediately encouraged those in attendance and those watching the live stream to join him in prayer for Saeed Abedini. He concluded his segment of the speech with a call to action and for the nation’s political leaders. He claimed that their current beliefs about Islam are inaccurate and their efforts so far have been inadequate.
“Mr. President, followers of a peaceful religion do not hold followers of another religion, like Naghmeh’s husband, American Pastor Saeed Abedini, captive for two years in Iran for no other reason than his faith in Jesus Christ,” Graham said.
The formal part of the event ended with Rebekah and Jacob Abedini singing a familiar worship song, “Here I am to Worship,” as attendees turned on the plastic candlesticks that were passed out as they entered the park. After the conclusion of the song, everyone joined in on a candlelit prayer walk from Lafayette Square to the White House.
This is not the first event that has been held for Saeed Abedini. Director of the Christian Defense Coalition Patrick Mahoney explained that last Thanksgiving, over 2,000 people nationwide participated in a movement called “Leave a Thanksgiving Place Setting for Pastor Saeed,” in which families left a seat open at their table for remembrance and prayer.