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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

"Be our voice for freedom."

Always eyes watching you and the voice enveloping you. Asleep or awake, indoors or out of doors, in the bath or bed- no escape. Nothing was your own except the few cubic centimeters in your skull.” 
― George Orwell1984

Can you imagine living in a society where your every move and thought was monitored by the government?
 George Orwell's frightening novel,1984, describes a society under the oppressive control of the government that prohibits free thought, sex and any expression of individuality. They have even invented a language called, Newspeak, which attempts to prevent political rebellion by eliminating any words relating to it. Even thinking rebellious thoughts is a crime and citizens are constantly reminded that, "Big brother is watching you!"
The description of this kind of society is unfortunately a frightening reality for my dear Iranian friend. For security reasons I will not mention her real name but for the sake of my blog, I will call her Zahra.
Zahra lives in Shiraz, Iran. She is divorced and has an eight-year old boy and is struggling to raise him as a single mom. We are good friends. Regularly, we meet on Skype and I spend time teaching her English in preparation for her exams at school.
Recently as we met on Skype, I asked Zahra to talk about freedom and tell me exactly what life is like in Iran.

"Iran is one big prison!"

Many of my Iranian friends have written short stories on the topic of Freedom and emailed them to me. I have featured their stories on my radio program and in my blogs.
However, in this case, I was able to interview my friend and to watch her facial expressions as she described her struggle for freedom in Iran. This was dramatically different than just receiving an email and it had an incredible, emotional impact on me.
Zahra rolled her eyes as she talked about the subject of freedom. You could see the pain and frustration in her eyes and her whole countenance changed to despair. She explained that Iran was "one big prison." 
Then suddenly her face beamed with hope as she looked me directly in the eyes and said, "I want to be free like a bird in the sky."

"Government chooses everything for us like a child!"

Zahra is not a practicing Muslim, but just in name only. Her biggest objection to the "Iranian way of life" is the government determining what you should believe.
"Religion is personal. The government doesn't have the right to tell you what to believe,"
 Zahra objected. .
 I could see the bitterness and frustration in her eyes. 
 Then she gazed intently into my eyes with a passionate stare.
"Government chooses everything for us like a child! We don't have the right to choose!"
 Zahra paused for a moment and gathered her thoughts. Then she boldly proclaimed,
 "Freedom is our right. It is God's gift to us!"
 I could not agree more. Iranians understand that freedom is a gift from God that has been stolen from them by a corrupt and power-hungry dictatorship.

"Be our voice for freedom!"

As our brief interview came to a conclusion, I informed Zahra that I would be having a book signing for my new publication in a few weeks and asked her what message I could give to my customers from her. A huge smile beamed across her face and without hesitation she immediately answered, "Tell them to please help us. We are prisoners here. Be our voice for freedom!"
I struggled to hold back the tears. I promised Zahra I would do this for her and all of her Iranian friends. I asked her to type for me what she said in Farsi and that I would make a poster of it and display at my book signing.

Loftan be ma komak konid
Ma inja zendani hastem
loftan sedaye ma bashid baraye azadi.

Please help us. We are prisoners here. Be our voice for freedom!"

Can you hear the desperate cries from Zahra's heart? It a very simple request and yet something you and I take way too much for granted everyday!
I intend to keep my promise to Zahra. She is a dear friend that I pray one day will be that bird flying free in the sky as she described during our interview.
There is a promise in Scripture that God indeed hears the desperate cries of Iranians. My prayer is that He will soon
answer their cries and give them the precious gift of freedom.

"He will rescue the poor when they cry to Him.
He will help the oppressed, who have no one to defend them.
He feels pity for the weak and needy, and He will rescue them.
He will redeem them from oppression and violence, for their lives are precious to Him."
     NLT....(Psalm 72:12-14)