Millions of Christians prayed for the release of Pastor Saeed and on January 16, 2016, all of those prayers were finally answered.
In what seemed to be a surprise prisoner exchange, the U.S. negotiated with Iran and Saeed was freed–along with a Washington Post reporter and a former FBI agent. This release was a victory for the church and a bold story of God’s grace and power to squelch the persecution of modern-day saints
However, it’s also a very complicated homecoming. While many people point to Pastor Saeed as a spiritual giant for persevering imprisonment for his faith, his wife, Naghmeh, is still wrestling with the gut-wrenching history of marital abuse.
Before Saeed’s release, Naghmeh went public with the truth about their troubled relationship and she wrote about the emotional, physical and sexual abuse (through Saeed’s addiction to pornography), she endured in their marriage—both before his imprisonment and during.
During Saeed’s imprisonment, Naghmeh tirelessly advocated for her husband’s freedom, but she finally hit her breaking point and felt the need to go public. “I do deeply regret that I hid from the public the abuse that I have lived with for most of our marriage and I ask your forgiveness,” she recently wrote.
In a Facebook post, Naghmeh continued to share her heart with the world—pointing out the excitement for Saeed’s release but also tempering the news with the desperate need for healing in their marriage.
She hoped and prayed the release of her husband would mean that their marriage would experience the spiritual healing needed to thrive, but, “tragically, the opposite has occurred.”
In a reverent and respectful voice, Naghmeh continued, “In very difficult situations sometimes you have to establish boundaries while you work toward healing. I have taken temporary legal action to make sure our children will stay in Idaho until this situation has been resolved. I love my husband, but as some might understand, there are times when love must stop enabling something that has become a growing cancer. We cannot go on the way it has been. I hope and pray our marriage can be healed.”
You can read the full post below.
In one sense, the fairytale ending is dashed to the rocks. According to Naghmeh, Pastor Saeed is not the perfect saint–or husband–we all desperately want him to be.
However, this doesn’t, or shouldn’t, taint the fact that God answered the prayers of the Church on behalf of a persecuted believer. It should also stand as a reminder that we’re all fallen, none of us are sinless, and Jesus is the hero of our story–not Saeed, not our spouse, not our pastor, not our mentor–always Jesus.
Our prayers go out to Naghmeh and Saeed–and their children–as they seek spiritual and emotional healing in their marriage in the days ahead.
God is good and if he can release Saeed from a prison in Iran, he can certainly restore their marriage.
So let’s continue to pray for a second miracle.