Pastor Saeed Abedini wrote a heartfelt letter to President Barack Obama thanking him for visiting his wife Naghmeh and two children last week in Boise, Idaho.
Abedini, who is currently serving an eight-year sentence in Iran for his faith, said that Obama's visit not only touched their hearts but inspired many other Christians from around the world.
"I was personally encouraged that you were in my hometown of Boise, Idaho and made time to visit my wife and children," he wrote. "They have had a heavy burden to carry in my absence, and your presence helped to relieve some of that burden. Thank you again for standing up for my family and I and for thousands of Christians across the world who are persecuted for their faith in Jesus Christ."
Abedini also appreciated the conversation Obama had with his son. "Thank you for your fatherly compassion of letting Jacob know that you will try to get me home by his birthday. I know that as a father you can truly understand the pain and anguish of my children living without their father and the burden that is on my wife as a single mother," he said.
The letter was shared by the American Center for Law and Justice, which represents Naghmeh and the couple's two children. They received the letter from a family member who visited the pastor at the Iranian prison. They, together with other persecution watchdog groups have been persistently raising awareness for Abedini's cause.
He was first arrested in 2012 while working in an orphanage in Iran. Abedini has since then been denied proper medical attention, and even suffered numerous beating and death threats.
After Obama's visit, even Abedini's wife expressed thanks and hoped that the American government will be able to set her husband free.
"I am extremely thankful the president took the time to meet with our family and told us that securing the release of my husband is a top priority," she said. "The president was focused and gracious - showing concern to me and my children. I know that this meeting could not have occurred without prayer, and I am grateful to the many people around the country and world who continue to pray for Saeed's release."