American Pastor Saeed Abedini was held for three-and-a-half years in an Iranian prison for sharing his Christian beliefs. During that time, he was beaten, tortured and pressured by Iranian officials to deny his faith, but he refused.
Abedini, who has been vocal about his harrowing experience, shared a story in a Facebook post Sunday that detailed a dream he had just prior to his capture. He claims the dream prepared him for the anguish he would face at the hands of the Iranian authorities.
According to Abedini, the prophetic dream came to him on July 28, 2012, when he fell asleep on a bus traveling from Georgia to Turkey and Iran.
"In my dream I was on a bus, and the bus was full of political and religious leaders. The bus went into the yard of Evin prison, and we had to surrender to all the guards and soldiers that had been working for the prince of Persia. There was no way out," he wrote.
"It was almost 12 p.m., and I when I woke up I told my dream to the person next to me and wrote it out as a text message. Suddenly a guard of Sepah, the militia group of Iran, stopped the bus, and a soldier came onto the bus and called my name. 'Who is Saeed Abedini?' I raised up my hand, and he told me to follow him," he continued.
He described the moment the guard led him to his office and seized his passport. "Right then I knew my life would change in a very hard way," the pastor wrote.
Abedini spent he bulk of his prison sentence in the infamous Evin Prison, which has been described as "hell on Earth."
"Prison, torture and the loss of so many things happened in a few minutes. I felt the heaviness of the world on my shoulders and chest and heart, like the Earth placed a huge rock on me, and I must bear it," he described.
The State Department was notified of Abedini's imprisonment by the American Justice and Law on July 31, 2012. The pastor initially faced a sentence of up to eight years — an eternity for someone undergoing the type of treatment he described.
At one point he says he was told, "For you, it's the end, you will never get out of this prison."
Abedini was released in January as part of a hostage-prisoner exchange.
Speaking in Paris last month at the National Council of Resistance of Iran, Abedini told around 100,000 attendees that faith in Jesus Christ can bring about a "resurrection of the Iranian people."
"My presence here proves that each act of resistance will be a victory. A victory for freedom. The message of God in the Bible says that we should resist the face of tyranny," he said.
Abedini, who is the sole founder and director of his own ministry, shared in his Facebook post that "the Holy Spirit shook me strongly and prepared me for years of suffering."
"This was all for the sake of the Gospel, as a child of God and an American citizen," he concluded. "Then and there, for the next month, I was in house arrest until I ended up in solitary confinement on Sept. 26."
Three months after his release, Abedini wrote on Facebook that he felt called to leave his family in Boise, Idaho, and take a missionary trip to Iran, despite the potential risks he faced as a Christian.
"Before starting every season of my life since I became a Christian, the Lord has asked me to make a radical decision in my heart and actions," Abedini wrote.
"God asked me to leave my children who I had fed, changed their diapers, taken them to the doctor and spent every day and night with them and go back to Iran, which resulted in prison," he recalled.
And despite the torture of Evin Prison, Abedini noted the undeniable good that his suffering achieved: "Millions saw me as I became a witness for Christ for more than 1,200 days and nights in brutal Iranian prisons."