Former prisoner in Iraq to speak in Rosemount

Saeed Abedini, a 35-year-old pastor from Idaho, who spent more than three years in an Iranian prison for alleged criminal charges based on his Christian faith, will speak at Lighthouse Christian Church in Rosemount during the 10 a.m. Sunday service and a special 6:30 p.m. presentation.

According to the Be Heard Project website, Abedini was detained on July 28, 2012, by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard during his visit to Tehran to see family and finalize the selection of board members for an orphanage he was building in Tehran.

After he was interrogated, Abedini was placed under house arrest and told to wait for a court summons.

Instead of receiving a summons, the Revolutionary Guard raided Abedini’s parents’ home on Sept. 26, 2012, confiscated many of his belongings and took him to an unknown location, according to the site.

After four days, his family was informed that Abedini was in the notorious Evin Prison.

He spent time in solitary confinement, only allowed visits from his parents and not his family in America.

He was denied medical treatment that resulted from beatings as the prison refused treatment because he was Christian.

When he was taken to a private hospital in March 2014, he spent two months there but did not receive the recommended surgeries, the website said.

A petition for his release gained wide attention, as Secretary of State John Kerry, the White House and 610,000 signers asked for him to be freed.

Two hearings at the U.S House highlighted his detention.

The Rev. Bill Goodwin, pastor at Lighthouse, said he became connected to Abedini through those working at Goodwin’s former church in Arizona. The Arizona church featured Abedini during a speaking engagement, and Goodwin inquired if one could be scheduled in Rosemount.

After some communication back and forth by email, the date was set.

This weekend will mark nine months since Abedini was released from prison.

“He is a humble man and really has a heart to share the gospel with his own people in Iran,” Goodwin said.

Goodwin said Abedini’s story is intriguing and powerful since many Americans can’t imagine wanting to go Iran much less spending time in a prison in Iran.

He said Americans often take for granted the liberties they have, and Abedini’s story of being imprisoned for his religious beliefs will put that in perspective.

Goodwin said Abedini will speak during the regular 10 a.m. service when Goodwin will ask people to write down questions they’d like to ask Abedini. Those questions will be considered for incorporation into the interview-style presentation Goodwin and Abedini will make at 6:30 p.m.

A freewill offering will be taken for the evening presentation.

During his Minnesota visit, Abedini will be interviewed on Twin Cities 980 KKMS-radio on Friday morning.

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