Anomalies and Other Things

The One Who Showed Mercy by Christopher Koelle

I am an anomaly. An Iranian-American-Jesus-follower who prays for the peace of Jerusalem.

We left Iran when I was four because of an impending revolution which eventually abolished separation of religion from state. I left England at the age of 6 to come to the U.S. because immigration laws were much different then. My family was welcomed, my dad was given a job and we created a life that led me to education and opportunity.

I love Muslims. Not just because you are supposed to love everyone. I love them because some of them are in my family.

The memories have not faded from the day the planes flew through the buildings, nor do I ever wish to forget. I remember where I was sitting, what I was thinking and all the events of that particular day.  I remember crying in the bathroom because I had a visceral realization sometime on the afternoon of 9/11/01 that my 5 month old son who had only experienced love, would one day understand hatred. I remember for a long time being angry at Islam. Angry it stole away the country I was born in. Angry for the people I loved who were now under an oppressive expression of it. Angry it had now crashed into my home country and taken thousands of lives and shattered millions in the wake of it.

In the book of Luke, an expert of the Law asks the Teacher, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”

Jesus replies, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.”

The expert asked another question, “Who is my neighbor?”

And so begins the story of the Good Samaritan… a Jewish man falls into the hands of robbers. He is beaten and left to die in the street. After a priest and a Levite, two of his own kind, pass him by and continue on about their business, a Samaritan stops and takes pity on him. He bandages his wounds, uses his oil and wine to soothe the pain, takes him to a safe house, cares for him and pays for his recovery.

The Samaritan is identified as the neighbor of the man who fell into the hands of robbers. Samaritans were a mixed race of Jews who intermarried with gentiles. Because of this, they were despised by pure-blooded Jews for having lost their Jewish purity. The two people groups had a long history of animosity towards each other.

It’s really easy to love a neighbor who has a lot in common with you. It’s easy to love a neighbor who is kind and generous with you. Loving someone different from you and does not agree with you is hard. It requires surrender, humility and grace. I believe what Jesus is telling this expert is your neighbor is often the one person you despise the most.

My Bible says this about Jesus: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

In Romans 12, it says things like, “hate what is evil and cling to what is good…bless those who persecute you…be willing to associate with people low position…if your enemy is hungry feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink…do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

I wonder if  mine is the same as the copy they have in Gainesville Florida.

Archived from 1979

I came across this video today and couldn’t help but feel proud of these women who fought for what they believed was right.  Iranian.com.

It’s interesting that 30 years later, the women still have the guts and are armed with less over power but even more knowledge, anger and drive that theywere able to particiate and in some cases lead in the opposition movements of this summer. 

Women have a tie to one another no matter where we are.  Wherever you go the sky is blue.  We all want to have security, we all want to be loved, we all want to be beautiful and we all want the freedom to find our footing in all of the above. 

Pray for the women who live in Iran to have strength, courage and wisdom in all circumstances.

Iran

I’ve posted a few links to websites where there still seems to be a lot of fresh information flowing from Iran.  Unfortunately, America has been swept up in the sad and untimely death of Michael Jackson.  While I was a huge MJ fan at one point in my life, it’s heartbreaking to see how easily our country’s passion has been swept away from the cruelty and sufferings of the Iranian people.  That’s all I’m going to say.  I think. 

Will you please join me in keeping up and continuing to pray?  If so, follow the links on the sidebar for more information.  By staying on line, sharing stories via websites, blogs and twitter, it encourages those who are literally being imprisoned in their country.  They have limited access to the outside world…limited phone conversations, internet access…everything is monitored and nothing is safe.  But we can let them know we hear them, we are praying for them, we still have hope.

And Liberty and Justice for All

My friend Kim has an uncle that was an employee of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran when it was overtaken by President Ahmadinjad and his fellow students and militants on November 4, 1979. He was one of 52 people who were held for 444 days with the new Iranian government behind the scenes.

I’ll never forget the day I met him. When he entered the room, I was filled with an indescribable type of shame and I blurted out to him that I was so sorry. He gracefully smiled and said “oh dear child, that was so many years ago and you had nothing to do with it.”

Shortly after the hostage crisis began, my own great-uncle was an author and journalist was imprisoned for exercising the human right of free speech and standing for what is right. My uncle was released after several months in jail where he was tortured physically and forced to watch people killed in front of him. He was accidentally paroled and by the time the officials realized their mistake, he had gone into hiding and eventually escaped to Paris. My uncle continued to use his voice by writing and speaking of the beauty that was once Iran was and the hope of what could still be realized until he took his last breath.

Micah 6:8 states, “He has told you, O Man what is good and what the LORD requires of you… to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

My uncle acted justly using the gift of writing that God had given him. He loved mercy because although he was put to shame, punishment and driven to fear, he did not turn his back on the nation that turned its back on the people. Instead, he fought for her through his words and relationships with other voices of leadership, community and the nations.

Those of us who say we are making every attempt to walk humbly with our God say we walk, but along the way are we taking steps of justice on behalf of others? Are we showing mercy to those who need it? Mercy is defined as an act of kindness, compassion or favor…particularly when it is undeserved.

While the US government is choosing to limit the use of its voice, the Church is free to speak up in a way that respectfully transcends the decisions of our government. As my friend stated today, “the Saints have a voice of authority before the throne of Grace…what greater power of protest is there?”

So today, as reports of acid being dropped from helicopters flooded twitter, images of people being beaten and killed covered the internet and cable news channels, the fight for freedom, opinion, election has indeed escalated.

We celebrate Father’s Day today. Let’s not lose sight of the Father whose heart breaks for those whom He sent His Son to die for. Many need encouragement that comes with knowing the fullness to the Oneness of the God they are crying out to… there is love, grace and mercy found in Jesus and there is faith, power and courage in the Spirit. We have seen this displayed in the history we share with Persians through Esther, Mordecai, Nehemiah and the Wise Men who came bearing gifts when the most beautiful revolution of all began.

Church – let us sing and not be silent, let us intervene, intercede, speak out and pray for justice for the oppressed, mercy for those who are crying out, courage to continue to rise up and give way to true freedom and righteous leadership. Let’s ask for wisdom and direction to move in the direction that is only according the will of God. Let us not shrink back from giving a hand through media support, words of encouragement and our fervent prayers.

If you have a voice, use it.

“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion,
“Your God reigns!”

Blessed are the Peacemakers

1Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2and he began to teach them saying:
3″Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
6Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
7Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
9Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called sons of God.
10Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11″Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

As a child of the 1979 revolution, all the scenes and images of what has been reported from Iran are eerily familiar. I am now a Iranian-American and completely immersed in my new culture here. But one never forgets where they came from.

My perspective over the last 30 years is that most of the people born after the revolution have been raised or have become products of their environment and have generally been politically apathetic. Forgive me if I’m wrong here. But it seems that the general lack of morale, discouragement from their leadership, fear of getting in trouble have left people wanting to keep a generally low profile, living their lives to the best of their ability and staying out of the ways of trouble.

President Obama is receiving a fair share of criticism for his hesitation to get involved in the situation. While the U.S. is known for coming to the rescue or meddling as some people put it, there may come a time for overt action. However, I think there is something to be said about waiting and allowing the Iranian people continue to rise up and find their voices that have been supressed for so many years. Two-thirds of the nation are under the age of 35. I am 35 and just begining to feel like I’m getting some gumption to do what God is calling me to do… I wonder for them, how long these feelings of oppression and captivity have been festering in the Iranian people and finally reaching a point of explosion.

It’s good to let them find their voice, THEY need to experience their own courage and recognize that what they want is GOOD.

I also love how the U.S. is getting involved in less overt ways. That computer techs are helping Iranians get access to internet to let us know the cries of their hearts. I love even up until this year, when you heard the name Iran, it was associated with “axis of evil,” “nuclear threat,” etc. But today, the world is rallying around the people of Iran which is truly Iran. There is solidarity, compassion, support and love for people. We are seeing that the very things that we often take for granted like liberty, freedom, justice, our voices, our dreams and the realization of our visions are things worthy of fighting for.

Pray for Iranians to continue to find their voices and let their voices be heard, pray for courage, boldness, protection for the innocent, justice for the oppressors. Pray for salt and light to show themselves in that part of earth so Light will shine. Pray for our President Obama, for him to have wisdom, courage, boldness, mercy when its required and heart that breaks for the things that break the heart of God.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.