The 2014 Values Voter Summit got underway on Thursday evening in Washington D.C. Sponsored by the Family Research Council, the summit, which lasts from September 26-28, provides “a forum to help inform and mobilize citizens across America to preserve the bedrock values of traditional marriage, religious liberty, sanctity of life and limited government that make our nation strong.”
This year, the Summit highlights global religious persecution with two well-known names in attendance: Meriam Ibrahim, who was sentenced to death in Sudan for refusing to recant her Christian faith; and Naghmeh Abedini, the wife of Pastor Saeed Abedini, who remains imprisoned in Iran.
On Saturday night at 7:30 pm, Meriam Ibrahim will be honored at the Faith, Family, and Freedom Gala Dinner. She will receive the inaugural “Cost of Discipleship” award for her faithfulness in the face of persecution. After international pressure, Sudan was forced to release Ibrahim, and she came to America with her husband, Daniel Wani, with whom she has two children (one of whom was born while she was in prison).
On the evening before the Summit, Naghmeh Abedini along with Samaritan’s Purse president Franklin Graham held a prayer vigil for Saeed Abedini, a Christian pastor who remains imprisoned in Iran. Mrs. Abedini said, “The kids and I are longing to see Saeed returned home safely to us. The kids have been suffering for too long. Our family is ready. It is time. We are praying for a miracle. My hope is that… our government and leaders will be reminded of the importance of religious freedom for all and continue to pressure Iran to secure Saeed’s release.”
The vigil was the first of over 600 prayer vigils that are being held around the world to mark the second anniversary of the arrest of Saeed Abedini. The vigil that was held in Washington can be viewed online at http://billygraham.org/saeed/.
Sen. Ted Cruz opened the Values Voter Summit on Friday highlighting both Meriam Ibrahim and Saeed Abedini highlighting them as “modern day Pauls and Silases” and tying their plights to religious freedom issues in America. He also said, ‘We need a President who will stand up and say we will not talk with Iran until they send Pastor Saeed home.’
The Values Voters Summit ends with a worship service on Sunday. Worship will be led by Jordan and Jessa Anderson, and the president of the Family Research Council, Tony Perkins, will speak.
The live stream can be viewed online here.