MERIDIAN, Idaho (AP) — More than 100 people gathered for a vigil at the Meridian City Hall Ampitheater to pray for the safe return of a Boise pastor jailed in Iran for preaching Christianity.
The Meridian vigil was one of hundreds held around the world on Friday for Saeed Abedini, The Press-Tribune reported (http://is.gd/PhN2Kk ).
Abedini had strong ties to the community of Meridian, Meridian Mayor Tammy de Weerd said. The father of his wife owns a business in Meridian.
"I am so honored to be here tonight for this event. . This is important," de Weerd said. "... It is my honor to know this family."
Abedini has been held in Iran for two years.
Clint Henry of Central Valley Baptist Church said the vigils were important for reminding people of Abedini's imprisonment. An Iranian judge sentenced the Boise native to eight years in prison in 2013.
"The most important thing is to raise awareness," Henry said. "I hope the community will remember him every day. We want his family to know the community loves them and is praying for them."
Meridian resident Tim Petersen, a fellow member of Calvary Chapel, said the church continuously makes sure the family knows their community is there for them. There are prayer groups that pray for Abedini's return, he said.
The turnout at vigils across the globe shows Iran and the rest of the world that Abedini hasn't been forgotten, Petersen said.
His wife, Naghmeh Abedini, has addressed Congress and United Nations councils to call for her husband's release, and the U.S. State Department condemned the imprisonment. But Petersen said he knows the release will not be easy.
"We believe that God has his hands on Saeed," Petersen said. "We believe he will be freed, but it will take an act of God."
Information from: Idaho Press-Tribune, http://www.idahopress.com