Monday, March 19, 2007

The Iranian and the Saudi

Happy Norouz!

I received an e-mail from my friend Morteza in Iran today, wishing me a "Happy Norouz"! That is the Iranian New Year. I met "Mori" in a Yahoo, Persian chat room about 5 years ago. I do not know Persian, of course, but wanted to chat with someone from "The Evil Empire" of Iran. One of the first things that Mori asked me when we started to chat was "whether or not I thought all Iranians were terrorists"? He was serious! I told him that "I did not like how the Iranian government suppresses its own people, but I knew there are a lot of good, kind Iranians, just as there are evil & good Americans". I have chatted with other Iranians who asked me that same question the first thing.

Mori & I have gotten to be good friends over the years. He does not back the Iranian government & in fact has been part of student demonstrations against the government. He has done this in a country which imprisons or “makes disappear” those who are against it. Whenever I hear of student demonstrations & arrests in Iran, I wonder if Mori might be one of them & say a quick prayer of protection for him. He longs to be free, as most people do.

Mori has been fortunate to be able to work at a job that has recently allowed him to travel to other countries. He dreams of visiting the USA, but the US penalizes all Iranians because of their lack of relations with Iran and makes it next to impossible for someone from Iran to get a US visa. There is no US Embassy or Consulate in Tehran.

I told a friend I used to work with at YWAM Honolulu about my friend Mori. She used to work with some Iranians in India & had lost contact with them. She asked, if by some chance, he might be able to locate them. By some miracle of God, he actually found them & got them back in contact with one another!

After the horrible 2003 earthquake in Bam, Iran, a city over 2,000 years old, Mori volunteered to do what he could to help in the rescue effort. Over 25,000 people died in that city I’d never heard of before that day. Mori said, “He’d never be the same after witnessing the death, injuries & destruction first hand”.

Once I was chatting with Mori, he was all excited because he’d met a beautiful young Saudi woman. Her family was vacationing in Iran, which I found unusual as most Saudis are Sunni & Iranians are Shia Muslims. (My friend Ghalib in Saudi Arabia declared his “hate of all Iranians”.) Mori is atheist. Living in an Islamic theocracy, I can understand why he’d look at the Ayatollahs and the suppression that is forced on the Persian people and not want to believe in a god that reflects them.

For the most part, Saudis hate the Iranians, as do the Iranians the Saudis. Mori & the Saudi girl fell desperately in love in spite of this. It is not always easy to tell the heart with whom you should show affection. They stayed in touch through e-mail after she returned to the KSA (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia). Their love grew for one another despite that it was “haram” (forbidden). This girl’s parents did not approve of the relationship & quickly arranged a marriage for their daughter, which broke Mori & the Saudi girl’s hearts.

Before that, Mori heard that her family was going to go on a vacation to Lebanon (before the recent war), so he arranged to go there at the same time to be able to see her.

Mori also took the risk of visiting the girl in her native Saudi Arabia. A country where it is against the law for a woman to be with a man who is not a relative! Still, her friends helped arrange a meeting & they were able to meet without being caught. I wish I could say this story had a happy ending, but it seems she will have to go ahead with the arranged marriage to a man she does not know, much less love. A woman in Saudi Arabia is forbidden to leave the country without her father or husband’s written permission.

The above story reminds me of my time at YWAM Honolulu where there was a leadership that for the most part did not reflect the love and freedom of the Saviour. They also had rules against relationships. In the Discipleship Training School I was in, it was “haram” for a single man and woman to spend any time together alone. They could not even walk together if they happened to be walking to the shopping center at the same time no matter how old they were!

If a couple felt they wanted to pursue a possible love relationship once they were on staff, they had to submit the relationship to the leadership. Only if they had the blessing of The Council, could they go on to the next step and publicly announce “they had a special relationship”. Can you imagine Jesus treating his disciples this way? YWAM likes to treat people with suspicion, rather than dare trust them with the freedom to do that which is right. That is the way of a cult.

Mori and I have exchanged gifts of friendship. Because the USA has trade sanctions with Iran, there are very few things that are allowed to be sent to Iran. I was able to send him some Lion Coffee, which he loved (and asked for more). He sent me Iranian tea as well as saffron, which is produced in his area. Saffron, by weight is the most costly of all spices.

It’s ironic that one can live in the freedom of the USA, yet be in complete bondage in a cult like YWAM Honolulu. Was living on the base at YWAM much different than living in “The Evil Empire”? I will be the first to say that at least not all of those in YWAM are “spiritual terrorists”.


Anonymous said...

You are good writer because you write from your heart ... and we feel your pain. I hope your journey takes you to the Holy Spirit ... so that joy may remain supreme. Love from one saint to another.

Anonymous said...

Interesting view: " Why are there so few truly Christ-like "Christians" in the world?" With the HOLY SPIRIT in your heart, you will find The Christ in each person. We are all a mixture of darkness and light ... look for the LIGHT and you will find Christ.

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