Pastor Saeed Abedini, who made headlines in the last three years for being imprisoned in Iran for his faith, has recently accused renowned evangelist Franklin Graham of using him to raise funds and offering little help since he was released from jail.
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In a Facebook post on Saturday, Pastor Abedini said Rev. Graham and other high profile religious leaders have used his story to raise funds for their organizations. The American-Iranian pastor also said he was forced to beg the evangelist for help in paying his rent a week after his release, The Christian Post relays.
"We as persecuted church and Christian always have been used with famous and rich Pastors and Preachers who used us for fundraising and recently because of special media attention on me some of them tried to show themselves as saviors of the persecuted churches and me which it wasn't true and right but their own benefit," said Abedini on Facebook.
"One of these pastors is Franklin Graham who has about 1000,000 $ salary and so many planes and private jets and every time he flies his gas price is just 10,000$," Abedini continued.
In addition, Abedini said he sought Graham's help in looking for a job that could help him pay his dues but received none. For him, all the famous religious leaders who campaigned for his freedom disappeared after the spotlight moved away from him.
In response to Abedini's accusations, Graham's spokesman, Mark DeMoss, issued a statement to the Post lamenting that all the help the evangelist extended was met with a "bitter Facebook post." DeMoss said Rev. Graham's ministry had helped secure the pastor's freedom and even provided transportation from Germany to the U.S., given financial assistance to the couple, free marital counseling and job opportunities.
Moreover, DeMoss clarified that Graham never raised money for Abedini, but his ministry funded the travels of his wife Naghmeh, who raised awareness over the case. The funds also provided care for the family while Abedini still had no job.
Lastly, DeMoss said Graham no longer communicates with the Abedinis and has no intention to address their comments. Nevertheless, the evangelist said he will still pray for them, especially their children who do not yet understand the problems they are experiencing.