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Faith Matters: Arkansans Rally Behind Pastor Imprisoned in Iran

Saeed Abedini was helping build an orphanage when he was arrested last year.
LITTLE ROCK, AR - Thursday marked one year that an American citizen and Christian pastor has been imprisoned in Iran for a reason legal experts say isn't a crime.

Arkansans are rallying behind the effort to free Saeed Abedini, whose wife and children are in Boise, Idaho, praying for a miracle.

Pastor Saeed's crime? Building an orphanage.

"The orphanage, when it was complete, they arrested him and charged him with issues of national security," explains Alex Averitt, the pastor of Journey Church in North Little Rock. He and his wife Jill have joined in the mission to set Pastor Saeed free.

"As soon as I heard the story, it drew me in," Averitt says.

"Heartbroken this is happening to brothers and sisters around the world," Averitt said during a prayer vigil at the State Capitol on Thursday. The Averitts have joined with Arkansans Passionate about Setting Saeed Free and the Be Heard Project, which serves as a voice for the persecuted church.

"Drawing attention to religious persecution. Something we often times take for granted, but is certainly persistent in existence in the world," Averitt says.

Prayer vigils were held across the country Thursday, as leaders are putting pressure on the Iranian Government, stating that Saeed did not violate Iranian law.

"Our goal is to get our State Department to work with the Iranian government to release him," explains Averitt.

In the meantime, they hope, and pray.

Click here for more information on the effort to free Pastor Saeed.
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