Thursday, September 13, 2012
"So don't you think God will surely give justice to his chosen people
who cry out to him day and night?"
(Jesus, Luke 18:7)
Most of us remember where we were when we first heard the news of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. It is a day firmly etched in our minds that we will not soon forget. I will never forget where I was when I heard the incredible news that Pastor Youcef had finally been released from an Iranian prison. I was sitting in the parking lot of a quick trip convenience store sipping on some cool and refreshing iced tea. I literally melted in tears of joy!
For almost three years, Pastor Youcef had been patiently sitting on death row in Iran for converting from Islam to Christianity. I clearly remember immediately getting on my smartphone and going to my Facebook status and typing these words, "Pastor Youcef is free!! God has faithfully answered our prayers!!!"
God honors and responds to the prayers of His people. Kingdoms rise and fall, revivals break forth and history is shaped by the persistent, non-stop, day and night intercession of the saints of God.
The Bible admonishes us in James 5:16 that, "the earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results" (NLT)
Imagine the power with just one person and yet millions upon millions of people faithfully prayed to God for Pastor Youcef. The result is that the forces of darkness, the strongholds of Satan, crumbled at the light and glory and power that was generated from the prayer of millions. God used the faithful prayers of His people to shatter the strongholds of Satan. This is absolutely encouraging to me. When I saw the picture of Pastor Youcef standing with his family, I shouted for joy in my car and didn't care who saw me or what people thought.
In The parable of the widow and the unjust judge, Jesus pointed out to his disciples that if an ungodly, unjust judge will give justice to a widow's demands, how much more will God do for his chosen people who cry out to him day and night?"
God hears our desperate cries. He gives justice to his people. Though the answer seems a very long time coming, in the process our faith is being strengthened and our hearts are being shaped and molded. My faith has been strengthened and my life has been changed. What about yours?
Sunday, September 2, 2012
Return with me to the glorious days of the Persian Empire before the onslaught and domination of Islam.
This was a glorious time when women were not treated as second-class citizens. When Islam conquered the Persian empire, precious freedoms were destroyed! Freedom of speech, freedom of religion and equal rights. Women became the slaves of men and instead of being courageous leaders, they were reduced to possessions and properties of a male-dominated society.
Before the Islamic conquest, one great example of a woman freedom fighter who bravely led her nation was Apranik.
Apranik rose up in rank and became the commander of the Persian Army in the sixth century. Riding her famous white horse of freedom, Apranik courageously fought to the death against the invading Arab oppressors. Apranik lived during the Sassanian dynasty of Persia. The ancient Greek and Roman empires were both horrified and fascinated by the mighty ruling women of Persia.
You may wonder why its important to understand this golden ear of Persian history. If Iran is to return to its "glory days" they need to understand where they came from. At one time, Women were not treated as "second class citizens in Iran (Persia) but had the highest rank in society and the highest respect among men.
When I think of modern day freedom fighters in Iran like Bahareh Hedayat, Nasrin Sotoudeh and Shabnam Madadzadeh, who are suffering for their cause in prison, I realize that women are not giving up on returning to their "glory days!" These women remember their history. They still care about freedom and are willing to speak out and suffer with the hope of a free Iran one day. These are the women, who like their historical predecessors, have the courage and conviction to fight for their nation.
In just a few months, my new book, "The Rose of Nowruz" will tell the story of Bahareh, a concert violinist in Tehran, who risked her life and her family for rights of women in Iran.
The women freedom fighters are here to stay. They are not going away. Their spirits are still with us today!