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Sunday, October 2, 2022

"Randy. Please be our voice. They're killing us!"

"Randy. Please be our voice. They're killing us!"

     I was relaxing in the break room at Chick Fil A just a few minutes before the beginning of my shift, when I received a voice message on Telegram. I noticed it was from my Iranian friend, Mahdis whom I hadn't heard from in a very long time. I immediately opened it up to listen to the message and was completely unprepared for what I was about to hear. In a trembling voice racked with tears and desperation, Mahdis pleaded with me from the other side of the world:

      "Randy. Please be our voice. They're killing us! They're killing both young and old. Please be our voice!"

     Chills ran up and down my spine. Tears filled my eyes. I was gripped by an intense feeling of urgency. I banged my fist down on the table in frustration. The lives of my Iranian friends were in danger and I wanted to be there right now to stand by their side and fight with them! For the last ten days, brave young women joined by men, in more than 110 cities across Iran, had taken to the streets, outraged over the senseless brutal death of Mahsa Amini. The Morality Police had arrested her on September 13 for not wearing her hijab properly and showing too much hair. They explained to her brother that she was being transported to a detention center in Tehran to be re-educated on the Islamic dress code. A few hours later she was pronounced "brain dead" at a hospital, lapsing into a coma. The official explanation was that Mahsa had suffered a heart attack, but bystanders had witnessed her being beaten in the head as she was being forced into a police van.

     The cruel and unjust death of Mahsa Amini had sparked a revolution with thousands of Iranian men and women taking to the streets outraged and demanding freedom from a dictatorship government. I had been very busy on my Facebook page, posting stories and videos in support for my dear Iranian friends. I had also reported on their plight and struggles for freedom on my blog talk radio program, "The Cross in the Desert." I immediately sent back a voice message assuring Mahdis that I would be her voice and the voice of all Iranians. I pleaded with her to be careful and told her that I would be praying for her safety.

     "Randy, please be our voice."

     I cannot adequately express into words, the awesome responsibility of being their voice. It is the passion and the driving force of my everyday life. It is the reason that I write their stories in my self-published books. I will never forget the incredible story that Mahdis shared with me a few years ago right before the Persian New Year in Iran. She recalled a frightening incident one day at school when she was just a little girl. The teacher had sternly warned all of the girls in the class that they had better wear their hijabs according to Islamic law or if not, that on judgment day, "Allah would dangle them over the fires of hell by their hair!"

     Growing up in Iran, as a child, this was the picture of God that Mahdis had been taught. God was not a god of mercy or love, but rather a god of fear and retribution that couldn't wait to punish his disobedient children. You could hear in her trembling voice, that same little girl, now terrified and pleading with me to support them. 
     I bowed my head in prayer for Mahdis and remembered the awful story that I had read the day before about the tragic death of another young Iranian girl. Seventeen year-old, Nika Shakarami, had bravely joined the protest in the streets and never returned home. Ten days later, her parents were told to come and see her lifeless body in the morgue. Nika's nose had been smashed in and her skull crushed. A few days earlier, twenty-year old Hadis Najafi is seen on a video tying back her blonde hair in protest and marching down the streets of Karaj only to be shot six times and killed for the crime of wanting freedom. As I remembered these horrifying stories, I was gripped with the fear of that same tragedy happening to my dear friend Mahdis. 
I could not bear the thought of that tragedy for another second, so I reluctantly got up from the chair to begin my job.

     There is nothing more important to me in my life than being a voice for my Iranian friends. I'm not doing this for money, fame, or popularity. I do it because I love them.  I do it because the Bible admonishes me to be their voice for freedom.

     "Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are unfortunate and defenseless. Open your mouth, judge righteously and administer justice for the afflicted and needy."
                                                          (Proverbs 31:8-9)

     Being silent in the face of injustice, cruelty, and the slaughter of human life, is an egregious sin that lacks any sense of humanity or compassion. It was the great German pastor, Dietrich  Bonhoeffer, who courageously defended the church during World War II and was unafraid to stand up against Hitler. He rebuked the weak and afraid, proclaiming,

     "Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act."

     If Bonhoeffer were still alive today, I believe he would raise an accusing voice toward the mainstream media for their silence and ignorance when it comes to the human rights of the Iranian people. They are willingly silent in the face of evil! We need a prophetic voice that will be unafraid to confront the evil of silence and to confront the self-centered governments of this world who have economic ties with the Islamic Republic of Iran, lining their pockets with profits while ignoring their desperate cries. The Biden Administration is a prime example of sinful appeasement for the sake of a legacy.

They are willing to sit down at the table across from this terrorist regime and renegotiate a  nuclear deal instead of rebuking them for their oppressive policies against innocent people, and speaking up for human rights.  President Biden wants to have a legacy behind his name, like Barak Obama did in 2015, when he gave billions of dollars of sanction relief money to the Iranian government that was spent on furthering terrorism in the Middle East.

     I refuse to be silent in the face of evil. Right after work, I messaged Mahdis back on Telegram, promising her that I will never back down and never give up until she can walk down the streets of Tehran one day without fear under a new government of freedom and democracy.

     I want you to hear the desperate voice of Mahdis with me! I want you to feel the fear, the panic, and frustration tearing at her soul. It is only when we together raise our voices and bring awareness and condemn the evil, that Iranians have any hope for a bright future, a new tomorrow, where the shackles and chains of a dictatorship are finally torn away from their hearts and minds.

     Speak up for those that cannot speak for themselves. It is our humanitarian duty. It is our calling.


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