Pastor Terry Amann of Des Moines, Iowa, is no stranger to politics. He’s been involved in politics and pro-life activism for decades. Most recently, he was a formidable influence in the last three presidential races. One Iowa State Senator just last week remarked that he is the “most influential pastor in politics in the state of Iowa.”
Politics aside, Pastor Amann has a heart for ministry, as evidenced by the single most important issue he addressed when he first met Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. Below are his remarks to me about the presidential race, in which he describes how Donald Trump kept a very important promise to him and to another pastor.
From Pastor Terry Amann:
In Iowa, the “First in the Nation status” state, residents are given a front row seat into the drama of what I call the “Great Race,” which results in the winner becoming the “Leader of the Free World.”
I met with Donald Trump in April, 2015, in Waukee, Iowa. There were other hopeful presidential candidates gathered at a church that day seeking to make their mark in Iowa.
Donald Trump came into the room where I was waiting. He graciously asked me if we should talk right away, or if he could meet with reporters first. It was my choice. I told him I would be fine having the reporters go first. While he was interviewed, I asked one of his staff members what it was like working for Trump and, “does he treat his staff well?” His staffer replied, “Yes, he definitely is good to his people.” In the brief interactions that I saw behind the scenes I would say that was accurate.
When we sat down together Trump gave me his full attention. He first took out a card with a picture on it. He pointed to it and said, “That’s me in my Confirmation Class from 1959.”
I boldly told him, “You looked like a tough kid from New York.” He chuckled and seemed to enjoy the light-hearted jab. We spent the next fifteen minutes talking about politics, his campaign, and my life as a commodities trader before being called into the ministry. He was fascinated by my story and respectful of the Christian faith.
As our time together came to a close, I was surprised by Donald Trump’s offer to me. He said, “Pastor Terry, if there is ever anything I can do for you - you just let me know.”
So there I am with one of the richest men in America, a man with much influence, telling me he is ready to assist me with whatever I asked him. (The parallel of King Solomon rushed through my mind in the way that God offered King Solomon the same kind of open-ended opportunity. (1 Chronicles 1:1-12).)
“Actually, Mr. Trump, there is something you can do for me,” I said resolutely.
Trump sat back and straightened up a bit, seemingly not expecting my response, and inquisitively said, “Yes?”
I said: “Pastor Saeed Abedini. Pastor Saeed is languishing in an Iranian prison where he being held hostage. He will die there if we don’t keep his situation in front of Obama and the country.”
Trump was quick to answer, saying, “I have been doing that. I have talked about his case many times. And really, there are four American men in prison over there.”
“I know you have been talking about it,” I replied. “But you asked me what you could do for me and that’s it. Please, please keep Pastor Abedini’s plight in front of the American people.”
Trump then ended our conversation with this promise: “Okay, I’ll do it.” We were photographed together, shook hands, and parted company. I went to another room to meet with Dr. Ben Carson while Trump readied himself to give his upcoming speech.
As the weeks went by in the nascent stages of the presidential primary season, Trump did in fact keep Pastor Saeed’s case in the news. There were a couple of times when my wife and I saw him plead Abedini’s case on television and social media.
But Trump’s promise did not end there. Another blessing came. It had been my hope to connect with Pastor Saeed’s wife, Naghmeh, so I could tell her about my conversation with Donald Trump to hopefully provide her with some encouragement. To know that there were people who deeply cared about her husband could be a mustard seed to keep hope alive.
As it turned out, several months later, Naghmeh Abedini came to Des Moines to what had become an annual prayer event for Pastor Saeed’s desired release. At that prayer meeting Naghmeh spoke passionately of the challenges that she and her two children were enduring. After her talk, I went up to her and told her about what had transpired in my only meeting with Donald Trump. I shared with Naghmeh what Trump had promised me, and how he had been honoring that promise. Then Naghmeh reached in for a hug and held onto me while my daughter Rachel captured the moment on camera. Then Naghmeh began to weep, and so did I.
In January of this year, Pastor Saeed Abedini was set free from the nightmare of his captivity in Iran. Upon his release Naghmeh publicly and specifically thanked Donald Trump for his continued support of their plight. She said:
“I am most thankful that of the many issues that Mr. Trump could engage he has chosen to speak out about the unjust imprisonment of my husband by the Iranian government. This reveals to me the heart of Mr. Trump and his commitment to religious freedom. I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to Mr. Trump for his concern of my husband and our family. I am very grateful for his support and want to offer the most valuable gift I have – the gift of prayer. May God bless Mr. Trump and his family.”
Donald Trump kept his promise. He didn’t have to talk about a pastor being persecuted in prison. But he did. One can only hope that the man who emerged from a bumper-crop of excellent candidates, who remains committed to religious freedom, will stop the corrupt Clinton machine and become the next President of the United States.