Seeking The Truth About the Saeed Abedini Story: Part 1

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120 Responses

  1. Babylon's Dread says:

    Michael,

    This is heartbreaking, and definitely necessary. Do what you must do.

  2. Michael says:

    Thank you, BD.
    I’m not in any shape to engage this, but we are pressing forward.

  3. Kevin H says:

    Michael,

    Will we see more information on this story at other outlets?

  4. Michael says:

    Kevin,

    This will be a collaborative work between Julie Anne Smith and myself.
    I do believe that other media outlets will pick it up as we move forward.

    Once the blogs break something,the big guys usually follow…

  5. Jtk says:

    So tragic and righteous anger producing.

    Michael, are you/were you concerned about reprisals for writing this?

  6. Kevin H says:

    Thanks, Michael. Take care, I know this won’t be easy.

    I know I have expressed some similar concerns here before about this whole situation. But I just get to write to express my thoughts and opinions. Your are the journalist and blog owner doing the hard work and receiving the blowback.

  7. Michael says:

    JTK,

    Of course I am.
    To be blunt, I’m stressed out of my mind.

    However, we were part of this story…and I owe the people who read here the truth as far as I can discern it.

  8. London says:

    Maybe someone who reads Arabic can translate the logo on the bottom to confirm.

  9. Michael says:

    London,

    If you open the page in Chrome, you can get a translation into English.

  10. Dee Parsons says:

    From a medical perspective, I find it interesting that the supposed *critical* medicine is not named. Bleeding from beatings usually require surgery to repair the damage. There is no pill which is so critical that it must be taken over a prolonged period and that such a process would cure internal bleeding from beatings.

    Now, if Saeed had a kidney infection, (as opposed to a bladder infection) a strong antibiotic would need to be prescribed. Such an infection is very dangerous and would most likely require hospitalization with IV antibiotics if left untreated for even a short period of time. He could be so sick that he could conceivably die.

    The description provided does not seem to indicate such an infection. Instead it seems to imply that a pill was given to cure internal bleeding. This causes me to question his narrative.

  11. Michael says:

    Dee,

    Yes…thank you for noting that.

  12. Dee Parsons says:

    Michael and JA

    Please let us know if you experience any blow back. I totally agree with what you have written and will support you both in any way we can via TWW,

  13. Michael says:

    Dee,

    Thank you…and feel free to use anything you choose on your site as well.
    Julie Anne has some excellent work coming…

  14. Laura Scott says:

    This is harsh. The first thing that came to mind was the possibility of defenders of the narrative characterizing those images as something akin to a Theresienstadt-type treatment.

  15. Michael says:

    Laura,

    That is what I anticipate happening…

  16. Papias says:

    Wow. A smiling Saeed in a prison that looks more like a halfway house than the one from “Midnight Express”.

    If that doesn’t set off some alarm bells I don’t know what else will.

    The sad thing is that there are some Christians who are in jail for their faith, but this….guy… got a lot of our attention.

  17. Michael says:

    Papias,

    It set them off indeed…we’ll see who else answers them.

  18. Paige says:

    Praying for you…..

  19. Michael says:

    Thank you, Paige!

  20. Cash says:

    The “Christian” media is in the tank for Saeed but especially for Franklin Graham and the ACLJ. Supporting Saeed is necessary for them because they know the truth and they don’t want it to get out. Be careful, Michael. Praying for you.

  21. Julie Anne says:

    “Wow. A smiling Saeed in a prison that looks more like a halfway house than the one from “Midnight Express”.”

    I’m thinking more like a country club. I was astonished to see how good Saeed looked after being in prison for 3+ yrs. Other prisoners we’ve seen look gaunt, malnourished, sickly, etc. He looked great. Life must have been grand watching porn, Netflix movies, telling his wife what to do and how to present him to the watching public eye.

    Michael, this is such an excellent post. I’ve been researching and getting information on this case for months now. And when we eventually compared notes with our different sources, I was convinced this was much bigger and worse than we could have imagined. The dynamics involved are quite complex, and I believe American Christians (and around the world) have been taken by individuals who care more about their image, their ministry, their $$, than being truthful. It’s time to expose the truth.

    I’ll be posting something later today.

  22. Michael says:

    Thank you, Cash.

    We’re obviously framing things as carefully as possible…hopefully more will step out and speak up.

  23. Michael says:

    Julie Anne,

    I’ll post it here as well…thank you for all you’ve done that most will never know about…

  24. Al says:

    Not surprised.

    Typical facade/veneer type stuff we see in Calvary Chapel circles.

    There’s the Facade…and then there’s the truth.

    Plus, Iran had reason to suspect Saeed b/c Calvary Chapel has a history of mixing Church and State and “missions” to spy for the govt. etc. A risk they take and something those doing missions for Calvary Chapel should be aware of so they know the risks of being connected to a Brand that is known for spying.

  25. Oh Michael … this is so hard to even process … praying for you as you bring this to light …

  26. Michael says:

    Thank you, Nancy… Julie Anne and others will need prayers as well.

    This is a group effort, thank God.

  27. Xenia says:

    Lord have mercy, especially on Michael and the Abedini children.

  28. Michael says:

    Xenia,

    Thank you, my friend!
    Yes…the children…

  29. Em ... again says:

    with all the enthusiasm about the world moving into a “global society,” it is a small world after all… well, it’s not that small…
    perhaps the Church has a need to refocus our missions and charities – it’s a whole lot easier to know where your money is going (prayers? i don’t know), if you use it for the neighbor that you can see and touch…
    for me reading this unfolding drama in a somewhat detached frame of mind as my only involvement was to answer the PhoenixPreacher call to prayer, is making it clearer that almost any scenario touted by activists of any stripe (i place many Christian organizations under that umbrella) that are outside my ability to verify on my own are suspect – that includes everything from ‘black lives matter’ to ‘gospel for asia’
    from what i’ve observed, there is a dynamic at work that isn’t good when a group of people depend on activist organizations for their livelihood – the public, including this pew sitter, look like cash cows to far too many these days – worst of all, it doesn’t seem to them to be immoral to solicit and skim
    we are not the world… anyone who takes the Bible as a serious message from God has to realize that globalism is not His plan for the planet now – from the Tower at Babel to the warnings in Revelation it seems pretty clear to me that a world united means tyranny and rebellion, not peace – some ideals are just not good when put into practice – we need wisdom and understanding – not saying that i’m preaching wisdom, just calling for it 🙂
    i got word that a dear cousin’s heart is functioning at 10% efficiency now – i can’t pray for Connie without thinking of Michael and i can’t pray for Michael without thinking of Connie… God keep both of His dear children close and those who love them, also

  30. Michael says:

    Em,

    Very well said…and I’ll keep your cousin in prayer as well.
    I do believe the prayers make a difference…

  31. Babylon's Dread says:

    Em,

    Your words are true. In scripture the baseline of truth was two witnesses. One witness to any fact was always suspect. One witness with a conflict of interest is suspect. Two witnesses are required.

    The importance of this cannot be overstated. The Christian faith is solely dependent upon the testimony of witnesses. Apostles and prophets are witnesses. Our faith rests on the credulity and integrity of the witnesses that espouse it.

    When I was doing research and was given a controversial piece of information I would not include it in my research until I had this threshold. Of course if something was in the historical record it would be used but new material had to meet that standard.

    We must do this with vigor. We must care about what we report.

  32. Anne says:

    Al’s concerns at #25 are extremely well warranted and one of the major reasons I hesitated from the beginning to jump on the Free Saeed bandwagon despite my heartbreak for his family left behind in Idaho. My heart breaks more that my misgivings seem to have been justified. So many things I am cynical about that I would rejoice to be proven wrong over. This has been a big one. Knowing how many I love and respect poured their hearts, time and energy into this cause that are hurting and confused now saddens me deeply. Thank you Michael and Julie Anne for your work!

  33. Xenia says:

    What we can say is true for sure:

    1. It is a good work to visit and pray for those in prison.
    2. Mrs. Abedini’s motives were good, that is, to do all she could to quickly secure the release of her children’s father. I would have done the same.

    What we can’t say for sure:

    1. Why was he in Iran in the first place?
    2. What were his living conditions like the entire time?
    3. What were the motives of Franklin G. and other big shots?
    4. How much control and intimidation, if any, was he able to exert over his wife, long-distance?

    The rest of the stuff- who will see a counselor, who won’t, who grabbed the laptop, etc- is none of my business, IMO, but the other stuff was a big hairy deal in the evangelical world and needs to be sorted out. Even my dear sweet innocent daughter-in-law used to post Abedini updates all the time and I feel she was mislead, as we all were.

    I am glad that Abedini was not tortured as much as we thought and I am glad he appears to be hale and hearty. I regret that he spent so much time in jail in unworthy activities, if that is indeed the case. There is a lot here that we don’t know.

  34. Michael says:

    Xenia,

    That was very well done.

  35. Xenia says:

    For example, one side says he converted a zillion* fellow prisoners, presumably Muslims, to Christianity. The other side says he spent his days watching p0rn.

    *rough estimate

  36. Michael says:

    Let me hasten to say that I know what my motives were in advocating for him and what the motives of all those who joined us were.

    It was simply to free a brother in Christ.

    It was in many ways, one of the churches finest hours of late…

  37. Anne says:

    #37 yes, that is true, Michael. I truly hope my personal hesitation was not taken as a negative indictment against the goodness of heart from which you and others advocated on his behalf. If anything, my hesitation also arose from a sadness and cynicism for which I am not proud.

  38. Steve Wright says:

    A word of caution on the financial angle. Especially phrases like “millions of dollars were raised” According to charity navigator who posts the IRS forms, the ACLJ had donations of a little over one million dollars in each of the years 2010,2011,2012 – we could call this B.S. (Before Saeed). The ACLJ had been around a long time with regular donors before Saeed’s imprisonment.

    In each of the years 2013 and 2014 – the height of the Saeed imprisonment – their donations dropped to under 900,000. Over a ten percent decline. (I don’t see any records for 2015 available as of yet)

    I would also add that they did provide Naghmeh legal representation to the tune of what otherwise would have been hundreds of billable hours – and I assume it was all pro bono.

  39. Michael says:

    Anne,

    I hear you…I’m a bit cynical myself.

  40. Michael says:

    Steve,

    I specifically wrote that part without defining who raised what…my statement is based on what I was told by those close to the situation.

    I’ve never been more cautious about specific words…and I hope that is understood.

  41. Em ... again says:

    i’m glad Pastor Steve spoke to the American Center for Law and Justice’s legitimacy… there was a time when Jay Sekulow was a one man band determined to defend the Church as our secular institutions hostile to Christianity began to flex legal muscle against us

    all these alphabet soup designations are hard for me to follow… i saw something that said the BLM was moving into the Dallas shooting foray… and wasted some time trying to figure out just what the Bureau of Land Management had to do with it

  42. brian says:

    I am a bit disappointed, only 7500.00 per talk, usually the “martyr”schtick” is worth more than that. He needs a new PR person.

  43. Al says:

    Why can’t evangelicals simply be honest and let the chips fall where they may? I know that is a general statement but it’s a statement based on the vast majority I’ve seen and experienced.

    “The DEVIL is the FATHER of lies!”….often the refrain of the evangelicals (of which I am one)….yet our Group lies an awful lot and I think it’s b/c our Group lacks faith oftentimes and feels like it has to make stuff up to help God out or something.

  44. Captain Kevin says:

    This makes me want to throw up. Michael and Julie Anne, count me in with those who will be praying for you.

  45. Michael says:

    Thank you, CK…

  46. Erunner says:

    What can you say? It’s difficult to absorb that believers can do these things. Sadly I don’t think followers of FG would listen no matter the evidence presented. Praying.

  47. Michael says:

    Thank you, Erunner.

    We do need covered….lots of material and lots of opposition.

  48. surfer51 says:

    #25
    #33

    Seem to have suggested a sidebar of another interesting story about Calvary Chapel as it were.

    Too bad such statements made by 25 and 33 were not provided by any links or such to back up their assertions.

    I would have liked to know more beyond what seems like mere aspersions to me for the moment.

    I would have liked to know more about the Calvary Chapel spy network that was alluded to.

    Can anyone offer up some links to this interesting story?

    “Seeking the truth about Calvary Chapel and Spying.”

  49. Michael says:

    surfer51,

    I think Alex wrote about it a bit.
    I never have, but have been told by impeccable sources for years that CC was involved in “government work” in foreign countries.

    I’ve thought about submitting a Freedom of Information Act request on the matter, but I think I have enough on my plate. 🙂

  50. Em ... again says:

    FWIW – our church missions have been pressured to do their patriotic duty when abroad for a very long time now as i understand it… all kinds of tentacles out there in unusual places… a friend whose brother was the head of a large company operating in the south pacific had a side job…
    as someone noted, it wouldn’t have been unusual for the subject of this blog to be working for either side of the fence … or even trying to be helpful by working both sides … we live in devious and tentative times

  51. nathan priddis says:

    This is not so much a comment on this specific story, but more on the backdrop and pattern that seems to be developing.

    Here are just two items that came to memory today.

    -I caught the intro to Every Man an Answer today. (CSN) The hosts are losing it.
    -Mothers Day, late AM (PST) I heard what is for me the first ever veiled call for violence. It was phrased as the usual anti-government rant. This was followed by a statement that patriots will need to rise again. There was no other way for me to interpret this but a reference to the Revolutionary War, and early state militias. (again CSN)

    There is a feeling that serious destruction of Christian credibility is taking place.
    This is moving from buffoonery towards dangerous affirmation and incitement of unhinged individuals

  52. Michael says:

    Nathan,

    Kestler has been on that kick for awhile.

    He is also one of the most wicked bastards that it’s ever been my displeasure to profile.

    Your larger point is well taken.

  53. Michael says:

    Em,

    You understand correctly, according to what I’ve been told.

  54. surfer51 says:

    I don’t know if most people know that the original Calvary Chapel of Costa
    Mesa California was comprised of “John Birchers.”

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Birch_Society

    Over the years a lot of John Birch type statements have come across their pulpits.

    So it doesn’t surprise me about what Nathan just shared.

  55. Michael says:

    surfer51,

    Seriously?
    I did not know that at all…

  56. Surfer51 says:

    I used to drink coffee every morning with one of the originating members who owned “Hanks Electric” in Costa Mesa.

    He is my source of this information.

    He is 90 now and in an old folks home these days I have been told.

    If anyone were to call Hanks they could tell you how to contact him to hear some great stories😃

    His own is incredibly fascinating.

    His family built a false wall upstairs of their home in Holland and hid a Jewish family behind it during the Germain occupation.

    The Jewish family relocated to America and became wealthy and brought Hank and his brother to America.

    Hank was a young teen during the occupation and did a lot of Things to irritate the Germains, he would break into their supplies and steal food to distribute to those in need.

    He never got caught but some others were not so blessed.

    When the Dutch men were walking to work they were made to pass by the Germains in a long line.

    With out warning one of them would be shot in the head to avenge the loss of a fellow German.

    Hank said it was usually cause a German got drunk and fell into a dike and drowned.

    When I painted his home years ago he showed me his old motorcycle that
    He rode around on when he was doing his part for the war effort.

    That thing still worked!

  57. Surfer51 says:

    Look up “Lonnie Frisbee 1992” and you will hear Lonnie saying that Calvary Chapel started as a John Bircher church.

  58. nathan priddis says:

    Surfer. There has been a lot of history people have revised. I still think CS was a good guy, but there were some seriously ugly people circulating on the West Coast. CS seems to have kept his bio close to the hip.

    I never heard of JB’s and CC / CM connection. There have been statements of Campus Crusade having staff that were JB, My memory says later 50’s.

    This is a loss to the Church with the memories of elderly men passing away.

    Did he ever talk about someone named Henrietta Mears? That would be interesting.

  59. nathan priddis says:

    Thanks Surfer. I will listen to that soon.

    To bad we don’t live in the same region. I’d buy you lunch and just listen.

  60. Al says:

    Haha, well, I agree with “some” of the Bircher stuff as a Libertarian leaning political conservative, while still being intellectually honest and being able to call a spade a spade in Calvary Chapel.

    This nation could very split in my lifetime…and most of the LEO’s and Military personnel in the USA would be on the Red State side of the divorce.

  61. surfer51 says:

    Something is going to take place in America one day.

    With evidence being the FEMA camps and the fact that foreign U.N. troops have been trained and are being trained on American military bases to take guns away from the American public.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sTMq0C0OKNg

    More interesting articles on the topic:
    http://tinyurl.com/zt4lg7k

    Who knows for sure?

    This is all stuff the JB crowd warned about, remember their bill boards proclaiming, “Get US out of the UN.”

  62. Dallas says:

    I remember that this story (the original one) first showed up on my radar around the time that I first read Tortured for Christ which is probably why it caught my attention in the first place. I seem to remember a part in the book where he describes feeling abandoned by the western church which was living in freedom and (at the time) doing little to help their situation. It kind of makes me sick that something like this is going to make others skeptical and cynical to future chances to stand with our brothers and sisters living in persecution.

  63. Erunner says:

    Nathan, I’m reading the book “God’s Forever Family” that Dave Rolph suggested a few weeks ago. It’s a detailed look at the Jesus Movement. I always associated it with CCCM but am reading they were just a part of something much larger that began so much earlier in Northern California.

    I just read a portion where Henrietta Mears was mentioned. She recruited a man named Don Williams in 1967 to be the college Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood. Her proteges included Dawson Trotman, founder of the Navigators, and Campus Crusade for Christ founder Bill Bright.

    She died a few months before Don Williams arrived. Bob Dylan was a huge influence on Don as he had been for many others in the early 60’s. Anyway Williams went on to establish the Salt Company nightclub. It opened in the summer of 1968 “and blended a rustic hip ambience, refreshments,and music the folk and rock attuned youth could appreciate.”

    His efforts led to what he stated were about 400 Christian coffeehouses that opened up in various areas during those times.

    I have a totally different understanding of Lonnie Frisbee and his famous canyon acid trip and subsequent ministry. His beginnings were in northern California and in those early years Christians were doing acid, etc. while reaching out to the beat generation and then the hippies.

    A visit from David Wilkerson (The Cross And The Switchblade) played a part in those early Jesus People deciding to stop the drug use. The Northern California history is really fascinating. I’ve yet to read how the Jesus Movement played out throughout the nation but CCCM was a piece of a much larger picture. I looked through the notes at the end of the book and found no mention of the John Birch Society for whatever that’s worth. I think you would really enjoy the book. I got it through our local library.

  64. JD says:

    I remember as a baby Christian reading the book “What the Bible is All About” by Henrietta Mears.

  65. Em ... again says:

    in defense of the early John Birchers… i knew some and they were salt of the earth, solid citizens who saw the dissent developing in the nation as corrosive – but the organization seemed to quickly attract that element of bad actors, an evil that seems to show up in every activist organization; it is what we are now seeing taking over the civil rights movement – the same phenomena – IMHO
    if one takes the time to follow up some of these incidents being protested as innocents being shot, you come to realize that they are the result of the atmosphere that surrounds them… there is an opportunistic evil that lurks in all humanity now showing itself again
    – corrupting our humanity is an unspeakable evil, beyond disgusting – today’s atmosphere is similar, if not identical to those lynch mobs (and the fact that the citizenry tolerated them) … IMHO … again
    Believers really must focus on Christ to keep our thinking straight

  66. Em ... again says:

    JD, that book sits on my bookshelf right now … i wonder if it is still in print

  67. nathan priddis says:

    Surfer,
    I remembered the link you posted.(christmas sermon) I don’t recall Lonnie saying that. It is hard to hear though.

  68. nathan priddis says:

    @64 Erunner

    This is Henrietta Mears pastor and possible boss in the link below. The (1920’s) Father of Fundamentalism, and an anti-Semite. Mears appears to have been purposefully sent out to the LA area, to start her work.

    http://www.believersweb.org/view.cfm?ID=159

    She was supposed to have had several hundred proteges or disciples. The mostly males she mentored, later established what we call Evangelicalism. A large number of our para-church organizations were begun by her proteges, a literal who’s who list. This includes the network associated with Billy Graham, another protege.

    I refer to this as Neo-Evangelicalism and it dates from the 1930’s. She was assisted, or received direction from a handful of individuals, some located in the So-Cal area.

    She was an old spinster. It’s kinda creepy I think.

    A variant of the word”Evangelist” is used a couple of times in the Bible, with the idea of proclaiming the Gospel. (verbal declaration of the forgiveness of sins)

    “Evangelical” does not mean this at all, but is just a similar spelling. It means to influence society. A political and social movement seeking societal pressure to change human behavior. (promoting concepts and ideas historically associated with Christianity, but not necessarily doctrine from Scripture)

  69. Michael says:

    To my knowledge Henrietta Mears was nothing more than a woman who loved the Lord and was used greatly by Him.

    I’ve never perceived anything even remotely creepy about her…

  70. Erunner says:

    Nathan, thanks for the response. This is all new for me and I find it to be helpful in understanding where things stand now. Reading the history helps me to understand what followed a lot more.

    I do understand what Evangelist means but to be honest I’m not sure what to make of the term Evangelical in today’s world.

    You seem to have a lot of knowledge on all of this and I appreciate reading it. I’ll continue on in the book I mentioned as It appears to seen by many as the go to book for understanding of what we term the Jesus Movement.

  71. nathan priddis says:

    @70

    Remember this is coming out of Fundamentalism. It’s supposed to be about “the fundamentals’ of the scriptures. Mears can’t be in a role of authority or males according to the “fundamentals.”

    Going deeper, those attending her group were having some sort of experience. They related on the basis of some sort of burning heart. That’s what the group was called. What’s with the burning business? Mormons have burnt bussoms, is it like that?

    Deeper still, If I was suspected of adultery, would I and my wife go to an older never married woman and make some sort of covenant? (Bill Bright and his wife) This is weird to me. Either I admit I shagged or I deny it, my choice. But I don’t divulge my inner-most thoughts with spinsters.

  72. Michael says:

    nathan,

    To be blunt, I think you’re straining at gnats.
    Millions of us cut our teeth on her book and her spiritual lineage is amazing despite my theological differences with her.

    I don’t think your characterization of her as a “spinster” etc, is helpful, either…

  73. Xenia says:

    Back to Abedini….

    I didn’t actively support the Free Saeed campaign. I didn’t change my FB avatar each week, for example. I did pray for him when his name came ’round on our family’s rotating prayer list. Still do.

    The Calvary Chapel world doesn’t have much in the way of real martyrs and I think they thought they had one in Saeed. But at least Saeed was still alive. While he was doing whatever it was he was doing in prison, thousands of Middle Eastern Christians were suffering real martyrdom. They were being beheaded, their churches were being burned down, bishops were being kidnapped, entire populations were being forced from their homes. To be frank, this is where my concern and prayers lie. So now the evangelical world has their hero and they can listen to his story when their church hires him as a guest speaker some Sunday morning. Meanwhile, Christians are being beheaded, churches are being burned, the bishops have not been released, etc. etc.

  74. Michael says:

    Xenia,

    That’s a whole article in itself…well said.

  75. Sylvia says:

    Has Saeed been to speak at many Calvary Chapels since his release? One by-product of their having been so invested in his case all this time is that they’ve had three years to fall in love with his wife. So, I don’t know the stats on who can afford to have him speak; I’m seeing him appear on TBN and things like that, but I can’t really imagine him being invited to Calvary Chapel of the Finger Lakes (for example) without upsetting…..like….most people.

  76. Michael says:

    Sylvia,

    I don’t think he’s spoken at many, if any.
    In reality, I think he’s a bit of a pariah in CC…the first negative rumors I heard about him were from CC guys…

  77. nathan priddis says:

    OK. Spinster was not helpful.

    She was called Teacher.

  78. Steve Wright says:

    The Calvary Chapel world doesn’t have much in the way of real martyrs and I think they thought they had one in Saeed.
    —————————————————–
    Odd. ACLJ and Franklin Graham sure have nothing to do with CC. In fact, it took me months of knowing about Saeed’s imprisonment before I ever knew there was a CC connection.

    During the FreeSaeed online effort, as Michael will attest, we got very little to none support from CC pastors in the effort. At least any that are the big names.

    Some of us even in the evangelical world do speak openly and often about the real martyrs in the Middle East (not not JUST the Middle East I might add) and the damning silence and apathy of the Western world to their plight.

    We aren’t looking for some special case we can call our own….

  79. Steve Wright says:

    Lest someone strain at a gnat….yes, Graham is a friend of Greg Laurie. My point is that Graham is hardly a representative of CC, nor needing to seek out pseudo-martyrs given his reach around the entire world.

  80. nathan priddis says:

    https://twitter.com/JohnnieM

    At the same time Saeed was promoted to the Church’s attention, this campaign was underway as well.

    The link above is to Johnnie Moore’s feed. There was an attempt to push the US into backing VERY specific parties and partisans in Iraq and Syria during 2015. Jordan was one. Moore still maintains the Defy Isis webpage, but the campaign message does not resemble 2015 at all.

    It suddenly went quite. Moore was appearing in a mega-church nearly every Sunday, and then nothing. I commented awhile ago that I would assume Moore’s family would be targeted. Perhaps he finds it safer to be Gospel for Asia public relations contractor.

    Saeed and Moore are both financial as well as political efforts in my opinion. But the one with actual geopolitical consequences, if successful, was Moore.

  81. Thomas says:

    So far no hard evidence of this purported exaggeration, deception, and fraud. Will await further posts to see if any emerges, but at this point it appears you’re building an entire story with solid conclusions without evidence to back those conclusions.

  82. Sylvia says:

    Steve,
    At CC Finger Lakes we had Saeed scheduled to speak at [I think it was the] Northeast Pastor’s Conference when he was arrested. So we knew him only by name and were told about him, then we found out that he may not be able to come because he was arrested in Iran (!!!) and then, some time later, his name and face were everywhere. I’m just presenting it from our perspective.
    I hate the thought that we choose which martyrs to care about, but I suppose we did feel that he was “ours” in that sense. Also, information on him was so seemingly easy to acquire. Seemingly. I wasn’t entirely thrilled that all the information was provided though the ACLJ, but, what could we do….and how bad could it be???
    I was annoyed when I eventually learned that Saeed wasn’t a pastor at the church that was reportedly connected to him, but, when he was supposedly fighting for his life, maybe there’s not a polite time to bring that up? Nobody should have ever lied to anybody, that’s what it comes down to. Christians don’t need to do that.

  83. Michael says:

    Thomas ,

    We are asking questions about the glaring inconsistencies between the narrative we were given for three years and what has come to light since. I think those deserve to be pointed out and addressed.
    Your mileage may vary.
    I particularly feel compelled to address it as I was compelled to rally support as well.

  84. Steve Wright says:

    Well said, Sylvia.

    As for me, the whole “he was ours” as far as my heart was concerned was he was an American Christian falsely imprisoned in Iran. Period. Not “ours” having to do with CC, or evangelicalism (again, for months I had no idea what denomination the guy was, if any at all)

    And yeah, I am not a big fan of the “pastor” title being tossed around when convenient either. There has been a lot of deception, much if it in the sin of omission of info that would clarify rather than continue an exagerrated or even false narrative.

    Anyway, the community knows my heart and my sweat on this for quite awhile. I just had to chime in with my two cents on the new theory (to me) that CC wanted a martyr and so we got involved with Saeed.

  85. Steve Wright says:

    I might add I would care and pray for Christians from any other nation falsely imprisoned…but the significance of the “American” aspect is that FreeSaeed was designed and carried out at largely a public awakening through social media to encourage our collective voices be heard in the halls of Washington D.C. in a one-day swamping of social media and our respective political leaders. Americans can’t influence governments of other nations as we can our own.

    And we did that quite well, as the committee hearing called just a couple days after our blitz hit D.C. clearly showed.

  86. Steve Wright says:

    the glaring inconsistencies between the narrative we were given
    ———————————————–
    Thomas, Michael is being very charitable to you. I would have written something more like “the deception, emotional manipulation, and flat out lies we were given”

    And in case you weren’t around this blog…I was the only one here getting weekly and sometimes daily updates from Naghmeh, including the two blockbuster emails that shattered the prior multi-year testimony….I have written extensively and copied and pasted to this blog the most heinous lies and manipulation (in my opinion) from that collection of emails.

    And to date, I have yet to see honesty or humility from either party, though I must say I rarely pay attention to anything either of them write these days….

    and I welcome Michael’s reporting and efforts towards the truth.

  87. Michael says:

    I’m too weak from yesterday to be my normal, harsh , self.
    Otherwise, I would have said what Steve said… 🙂
    What I will contend is that some of the deception was purposeful and in my opinion, Naghmeh Abedini was the least blameworthy of those who participated .

    More coming…

  88. Steve Wright says:

    you didn’t get her emails…. 🙂

  89. Michael says:

    I understand…but I believe she was following the instructions of very powerful, trusted,people to the best of her ability. Blameless, no…but completely understandable in the circumstances she found herself in.

  90. Em ... again says:

    #31-thank you, Michael for the prayers

  91. Xenia says:

    #79

    After I posted that, I realized I should have left out references to Calvary Chapel.

    I couldn’t say “the evangelical world doesn’t have much in they way of real martyrs…” because world-wide, there have been genuine evangelical martyrs. I should have said “the American evangelical world.”

    My apologies.

  92. Xenia says:

    Although, isn’t Mrs. Abedini a Calvary Chapelite?

    No matter, I mis-spoke.

  93. Sylvia says:

    Xenia.
    I feel like it’s still so hard to keep track of what’s happening to persecuted Christians around the world sometimes. And if we’re not paying attention, we’ll pass along those 6-year old pictures on Facebook that say “Here’s a Christian dying for his faith!” and heaven knows WHAT that picture is. It’s easier to keep track of our own missionaries, although in some countries their work still has to be secret. With Saeed we had the illusion of knowing what was going on and knowing how to pray.
    And did we ever pray…for Saeed, for Naghmeh, for the prison guards to hear the Gospel and believe, for revival in that prision, for revival in Iran. One pastor prayed that the Lord would visit Saeed to comfort him like he once did for Paul. There’s so much we didn’t know, but our Father knew our hearts. Still want revival.
    Re. Calvary Chapel, my impression was that both the Abedinis attended CC Boise before his arrest? What was not made clear to me was that Saeed was never pastoring there. He had, if I NOW understand correctly, obtained the title through other means and was never serving there in that capacity.

  94. Kevin H says:

    I thought it was admirable what the church did in rallying for Saeed. It is sad that this type of rallying doesn’t happen for every wrongfully imprisoned and abused Christian around the world. But the reality is that it just not possible for the needed information, conditions, and infrastructure to exist for this type of thing to happen on a regular basis.

    What is shameful is how those who were giving the information about Saeed dishonestly and grossly manipulated the whole situation. That type of behavior is only going to make it ever so harder to ever rally the church again for other individuals.

    I agree with Steve that we haven’t but need to see honesty and humility from all the guilty parties.

    I also agree with Michael that Naghmeh is culpable for what she did, but I personally hold her in the most understanding seeing that it was her husband and father of her children who was imprisoned and that she was being counseled (and allegedly pressured) through this whole thing by big famous Christian men and organizations, including Saeed himself.

  95. Kevin H says:

    I also didn’t think this whole thing was CC-centric. Thank you Xenia for having the humility to correct what you believe to have said wrongfully.

    CC certainly had involvement in the whole thing, especially as time went on and Naghmeh was speaking in and rallying support in quite a few CC’s. But the origination of this whole thing was not Calvary Chapel driven and it was much bigger than CC as a whole.

  96. Steve Wright says:

    My wife and I left India about two months before Graham Staines and his two young sons (ages 6 and 10) were murdered in January 1999. You can google that one. Our dear friend and the one whose ministry we help support at CCLE became friends with the widow Staines. (My wife went back a month later to live in India for several months for our little baby, at one of the most dangerous times for any western foreign Christians, even those not actively preaching. She stayed locked indoors for almost six straight months – only a couple trips out)

    I preached and ministered to several people who told me of their persecutions for the sake of Jesus.

    I have a few precious friends there that have suffered terrible horrors by evil men for the sake of the gospel. All of the above would be classified, if that matters, as evangelical.

    Thus, I most definitely am not looking for someone who otherwise is a complete stranger to me that I can embrace as a persecuted one of my own.

    I understand Xenia meant her emphasis to be on American and not on evangelical. And I second her in repeatedly speaking to my congregation of the persecutions of our brothers and sisters worldwide, (whatever the denomination) and remind them of the unprecedented freedom they enjoy – and the responsibility that comes with that freedom to remember our family in Christ worldwide.

  97. Josh the Baptist says:

    I don’t think it was a CC-thing, or an evangelical thing. We’ve all seen the pictures of the nameless faceless martyrs, dying in the Middle-East. It has broken our hearts. We’ve prayed for them and searched for ways to help.

    Saeed was just a name and a face. We couldn’t rescue all of them, but maybe we could rescue one. Saeed was going to be that one.

    Unfortunately, he turned out to be a real jerk.

  98. nathan priddis says:

    Michael,

    Ask yourself, who / what is the ACLJ?

    I think the first time I heard of them was around 2000. I was convinced on the spot it was a fraud. Think about how Jay talks to the callers during the program. It’s complete manipulation. Why is he any different then Driscol?

  99. Michael says:

    Nathan,

    I don’t listen to his program, didn’t know he had one.
    He seems like just another part of a political/religious movement that I don’t belong to.

  100. Michael says:

    Josh…lot of truth in what you wrote there…

  101. Al says:

    I disagree, it was absolutely a Calvary Chapel thing and their Brand of Political Evangelicalism thing.

    Like with much of Calvary Chapel, it was a Facade and Veneer and built upon lies and PR and half-truths with the goal of raising money and support and firing up the base for politics, but doing it using fabrications and propaganda.

    Happens in Politics all the time. Calvary Chapel does their Biz just like the World does.

    And, Calvary Chapel has a history of spying, which is why Saeed got arrested in the first place.

  102. Kevin H says:

    I have heard Jay Sekulow’s radio program only a few times for a short few minutes each. But it is strange, to say the least.

    It is like some kind of weird infomercial with a constant stream of fast talk from Sekulow in an urgent tone. I don’t know if all the shows are like this, but whenever I have heard them, they have sounded like this.

  103. Michael says:

    I have absolutely no evidence that Abedini was acting in accord with CC.
    I have some evidence that he was a loose cannon seeking to make a name for himself.
    If he is the kind of intellect we are recruiting for spy missions, we are in deep trouble…

  104. Sylvia says:

    Regarding the Sekulow ACLJ radio program: What you’ll notice after listening a several times is that there’s always a petition to sign. When one issue gets tabled there’s a new issue the next day, but there’s always a petition and they urge you to sign it lest things get any more dire. You can call, or go to their website to sign it. You include your contact information so they can prove that you’re a unique signer and they will be in contact with you regarding opportunities to donate your money. Oh yes they will.

  105. nathan priddis says:

    ACLJ is a modern day Absalom.

    They tell people whatever is required to undermine the authority of the government. They used to focus on little stuff like Christian clubs in public schools, or prayer in public.

    ACLJ has programming on CSN since around 2000 or so, at 9 AM PST. The objectives appear to be fundraising, political manipulation of low-sophistication Christians, mailing list generation, creating and steering Christian discussions, creating vague negative / positive notions regarding specific public / political figures, providing alternative narratives of national press reports, creating a sense of urgency for Christians to respond to items in the press, creating an environment of frustration for Christians by encouraging people to sign petitions that will NEVER result in change, show and encourage continuous dis-respect for authority and specifically encouraging Christians to hate the President.

    I would describe it using these adjectives;

    -Alarmist
    -Agitator of Christians
    -Doubt sower
    -Party agent

  106. Julie Anne says:

    Earlier, I had hoped to get a new post up. I have a draft post written, but I’m waiting for permission to post it and fact checked.

    A little explanation in how I work: when I work with survivors, their privacy and well-being are my #1 concern. In most stories I report (and I’ve spoken with Michael about this, and he can vouch for this, too), there is a lot of information and source material that I am in possession of, but for one reason or another, cannot post publicly.

    In the case of survivors, it is important that they are the ones who decide when their story is told and how it is told. Additionally, I always remind people that once something is posted publicly, the digital footprint is out there in the internet forever. It’s very important to be careful about what information is posted. How will it affect them later? Will it have an impact on their family, etc?

    So, anyway, that is where we are, and thank you for your patience. Michael and I are committed to posting with integrity, citing source documentation whenever possible, and also defending and protecting victims who have been harmed along the way. Sometimes these do not happen on our schedule, unfortunately. Thanks!

  107. Julie Anne says:

    ACLJ is a modern day Absalom.

    nathan priddis, your comment is spot on!

  108. Michael says:

    Julie Anne has spoken well…and I will vouch for her all day long.

  109. Rick from Texas says:

    I may be out of line here, but the following just showed up on my FB wall from Saeed:

    I left Boise Idaho as my home for last 10 years today.

    Boise was the city that I became US citizen in it,
    My both children Rebekka Grace and Jacob Cyrus were born there and Boise was the city which I saw as first time in my life who people smile to each other in street which I never experienced in my life before.
    And Boise was the pioneer city of the 1000 cities and countries and locations in keeping pray vigils for me while I was in prison for Christ.
    I am driving all the way from Boise to Lynchberg Virginia to join my sisters Zeebandeh Abedini and Elnaz Abedini and Vahid Abedini who live there and go to Washington DC to show my support for Israel and speak at summit dinner of Christian United for Israel conference in July 16-19’th in DC.

    Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu and Pastor John Hagee will speak in this largest gathering of supporting of Israel in the world also!

    http://pastorsaeedministries.com/

    ‪#‎ServingHimTogether‬
    Saeed Abedini
    Exclusive Director at Saeed Ministries, Inc.
    (Non-profit, Non-denominational, Christian Ministries).
    Awakening Christians, Reaching Muslims.
    Preaching the Whole Gospel to the whole World.

    PO. Box 8702
    Boise, Idaho, USA, 83707

    This, combined with the “Exclusive Director” title makes me ill.

  110. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    “Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu and Pastor John Hagee will speak in this largest gathering of supporting of Israel in the world also!”

    Whew! he scared me there for a minute – I thought he was going to say he was going to a Christian event.

  111. Michael says:

    Rick…thank you.

    I was resting and didn’t see that…

  112. Lisa says:

    Sounds like it was a scam to get money out of people! They even raised money enough to buy them a new house! Wonder who gets the house in the divorce?lol sure doesn’t add up…makes me wonder if the wife already moved on before he got out. She was just as much part of the scam as him…flying all over on trips ‘to tell people about her husband’ and taking money from everyone along the way…so sick!

  113. Babylon's Dread says:

    One way to assure yourself of a constituency that you cannot lose is to be an Iranian advocating for CUFI. I always enjoy the theatre of Hagee and Calvary Chapel as teammates.

  114. SK says:

    When will your follow up articles come out on this issue?

  115. Michael says:

    When we’re completely confident in what we are going to post. The complexity here is off the charts.

  116. Lyle Young says:

    It was a perfect storm of an “evil empire,” a beloved prisoner, politically-motivated power brokers, and American Christians who too easily trust a compelling narrative. Fellow Christians, we must not forget the “shrew as snakes” along with the “innocent as doves.”

  117. Brian says:

    I cannot seem to find any “part 2” here or anywhere on the net. Does anyone know if there will be a “part 2” any time soon on this?

  1. August 3, 2016

    […] As we showed in an earlier article, there are pictures that indicate that Abedini’s confinemen… […]

  2. October 21, 2016

    […] as part of a deal. His imprisonment brought him not just support and sympathy (although there were concerns that his account of prison conditions had been embellished), but also celebrity: on his return he […]

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