Naghmeh Panahi with her children.
Naghmeh Panahi with her children. (Naghmeh Panahi/Facebook)

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Saeed Abedini's ex-wife, Naghmeh Panahi, recently shared what went wrong in their marriage.

"Until two years ago, wherever I traveled and spoke, my advice to women (those who even confessed to me horrific abuse and adultery) was to die to themselves and love and obey more. You can look up YouTube videos of my talks at different conferences and churches (under Naghmeh Abedini)," Panahi writes.

"Therefore I put the burden of saving a corrupt marriage on the oppressed. I believed with all of my heart that if we, as women, would just die to ourselves more and love and submit more, a marriage could be salvaged. I judged those who divorced and especially the woman. I would think to myself, I am sure she was not so innocent herself and was to blame."

For years, Panahi worked as a tireless advocate to free her husband from Iranian prison, where he was serving a sentence for preaching the gospel. In November 2015, Panahi suddenly dropped her campaign. She cited "physical, emotional, psychological and sexual abuse (through Saeed's addiction to pornography)."

When Abedini was set free during a prisoner trade in 2016, Panahi filed for legal separation. By the end of 2016, Abedini reportedly refused counseling and filed for divorce.

Abedini smeared Panahi on social media:

First I will address my arrest in 2007 which everyone says proves I am a wife beater. Naghmeh and I had an argument, as all married couples do. She slammed my laptop shut as I was speaking with my parents. I tried to pick up my laptop and leave the room. However she blocked me from being able to. She called the police. PERIOD..I never beat her. Once again their were no witnesses, just her word. The police report says there were NO MARKS FOUND. Pictures were taken--no marks. She wanted them to arrest me and they did. She wrote a letter retracting the whole story stating "Saeed did not push or threaten me in any way". It is all a matter of public record.
Second, Naghmeh did not confide in a few "close friends", as was widely reported. She sent out a mass e mail to THOUSANDS of people she never met. People who were praying for me. She made sure there would be maximum exposure by asking them to sign up for a google plus account. There were too many people in the group for regular e mail. She told them she has an URGENT UPDATE about me. That urgent update turned out to be the accusatory e mail that would end up destroying my family, reputation and ministry. It was no "leak" or mistake. When people began questioning her about the timing, about why now that I am getting released would she change her story about me, she stated that when she sent the e mail she could not have possibly known I would be getting out. Another lie.

Statements like these break Panahi's heart, but give her followers insight into their abusive relationship.

How I was broken. Facing my worst fear of being a divorced single mom. Yet I could not back down. The same love that took me before presidents and governments to get him out of the physical prison, demanded that I would not back down on my boundaries in the hopes that he would be freed from his spiritual prison.

Through it all, my Savior stood with me and cleansed me and is healing my children and me with His Word. For almost two years, I have sat under the feet of Jesus and am learning to pay close attention to the Word of God and step into obedience of His Word by His grace alone. The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don't know and what a filthy sinner I am covered by the blood of the Lamb and in desperate need of God's Grace.

So I have been hesitant to share. Surely most Christians know so much more than me. I feel like a babe in Christ. And the times I do share, I see it tinted with pride and arrogance. Oh, this fallen nature. To be freed of it one day when I see Jesus face to face!

 

Jessilyn Justice is the director of online news for Charisma. Born and raised in a pastor's family in Alabama, she attended Lee University and the Washington Journalism Center. She's passionate about sharing God's goodness through storytelling. Tell her what you think of this story on Twitter @jessilynjustice.

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