Naghmeh Abedini Tells Children 'Daddy's Coming Home!'
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Naghmeh Abedini says she knew something dramatic was unfolding when she received news that her husband, Saeed Abedini, was being moved from prison.
"We heard Saeed was being moved out of his cell by the intelligence police and we felt like that was indication of his release," Naghmeh told CBN News in an exclusive interview from her home in Boise, Idaho.
Click play to listen to her full interview on how she and her children reacted to the news and what's ahead for them as a family.
Then this morning around 7:30 a.m. Mountain time, Naghmeh said the phone began ringing off the hook.
"I got calls from people in Iran saying that the Iranian government had announced that they had released four Americans."
Shortly after those calls from Iran, Naghmeh was contacted by the U.S. State Department confirming that her husband was indeed being released.
"I woke up my kids at 7:30 in the morning our time and told them that 'Daddy was coming home!'" she told CBN's George Thomas.
Pastor Abedini is among the four Americans Iran released on Saturday. The 35-year-old convert from Islam to Christianity had been in prison since July 2012 for conducting Christian activity.
Naghmeh said she and her kids were in total shock.
"They got out of bed and just started jumping up and down, rejoicing. It was very loud, very joyful and I could see a heavy weight lifted off their little shoulders."
The couple's two children, Rebekka and Jacob, have spent almost four years wondering if their father was ever coming home. In a 2013 interview with CBN's Wendy Griffith, Naghmeh said no matter how much faith she has in her husband and her God, she said was difficult to watch her children suffer.
"As a woman, God's given me the grace to go to Him for comfort, but as a Mom it's a stab in my heart to see them struggling," Naghmeh said in 2013. "My son's character has changed. He's not as talkative. My daughter, as a girl, cries a lot, 'Daddy, daddy...where are you?' They draw pictures of sad children crying, missing their daddy."
In late November 2015, Naghmeh shared with supporters that she was stopping all public efforts to gain her husband's release following revelations about some very serious personal challenges inside her family, including "abuse" issues.
Now with her husband finally heading home, Naghmeh admits there will be difficult days ahead as the family seeks a time of healing.
"The reality is that we are not heroes, Jesus is the only hero, He is our only example and we are broken people with issues," Naghmeh told CBN News hours after her husband's release.
Naghmeh said since revealing those marital challenges, she has gained a new understanding of what it means to suffer abuse.
"My brokeness has allowed me to understand other people who have gone through similar struggles and abuse in their own relationships so we are both broken people."
Naghmeh said she regretted making those marital challenges public but insisted "there needs to be change" and healing going forward.
"I love him, but there are serious issues that we need to deal with once he's home."
Since his imprisonment on September 24, 2012, millions of people around the world have prayed for Pastor Saeed's release. Naghmeh says those prayers sustained her and her family throughout the ordeal.
"Outside my faith in Jesus Christ, I'm so thankful for the millions who prayed, who trusted God with me, who did not give up, who sent me messages and letters saying, 'We are not giving up, we have not forgotten him.'"
Naghmeh told CBN News there were many times she wanted to "give up and throw in the towel" but didn't because of those prayers.
"Those messages and prayers is what kept me going and kept the hope alive both for me and for Saeed also," she said.
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