IRan from God

Hi everyone!! I’m Crystal’s husband, Todd.  Crystal was going to write a little post about my latest adventure to Washington DC to pray for Pastor Saeed Abendini,  but I asked if I could take the wheel and write it myself.  It may get long but here it goes.

This story could begin in various points in time, but I’ll start on February 22, 2009.  That day Clive Calver from Walnut Hill Church, visited  Hillside Community Church, where Crystal and I are members.  I’ll be 100% honest and say I don’t really remember why Clive came or the full meaning of his message.   I do remember Clive talked about his time in Iran.   About a crazy story about being in a car full of bibles and a guy randomly showing up looking for bibles.  Well, you could say randomly or you could say God-led.  I’d prefer the latter.  It was that night that God put a burden on my heart about Iran.

Iran had been in my prayers more and more and I often look up new on Iran and follow what’s going on, but that was the extent of any actual action for me.  I followed closely and prayed often for Yousef Nadarkhani, an Iranian Christian who was imprisoned for trying to spread the Gospel, sentenced to death, but ultimately was released by the grace of God, many prayers and the hard work of people around the world.  From following that I came to know about Saeed Abendini.  Pastor Saeed is an Iranian American.  He is a citizen of the United States and a citizen of Iran. He and his family live in Boise, Idaho.   In July of 2012 Pastor Saeed was arrested.   The charges, even to this day are somewhat vague but the underlying charge is being a Christian.  That’s right, the man is in prison because of his beliefs in Jesus Christ.

Momentum in this shifted dramatically in late January when, after a thrown together trial with a lawyer who had no time with his client in front of the “hanging judge”, Pastor Saeed was sentenced to 8 years in Evin Prison.  Evin prison is one of the most horrific prisons in the entire world.  At the same time our current (and also a founding) pastor was beginning a series on being a fan or follower of Christ.   Are you a fan of the good times or are you willing to let go of your whole life and live for Jesus.  This is where that message, my prayers on Iran, the foundations of the church I’m in, and Pastor Saeed all came crashing together.  Reverend Patrick Mahoney is one of the founding ministers of Hillside Community Church.  He comes back often and I follow him on Facebook.  Pat began posting about Pastor Saeed and came up with an idea to hold a prayer vigil in front of the White House.   Facebook is powerful and momentum for this began to build.    I began to pray more fervently for Pastor Saeed and for all Christians in Iran.  That’s when once again I felt God this time telling me I needed to go to Washington DC for this prayer vigil.

Now let me give a time-frame here.  This is on Monday NIGHT, February 4th.  The prayer vigil is on Wednesday, February 6th.  So I started poking around.  How am I going to get there?  Its about a 7 or 8  hour drive.  No, that’s too long given when I could leave and when I had to be home.  How much is a flight on 2 days notice? $1200? YIKES!! I don’t have that kind of cash to spare at all.  How about those airline miles I’ve been accumulating since 1995 (no joke).  How about $105 plus only 1/2 the miles I have in my account.  I could leave and be home in the same day.   I approached Crystal with it and while she thought I was an absolute lunatic, she agreed to let me go.  Tuesday when I got to work I booked my flight.  The rest of that day is also kind of a blur.  I focused as best I could on work but it was hard to take my mind of what lay ahead the next day.

I can’t believe I actually slept but I did and woke up at 4:20 am and showered grabbed the small backpack I had packed, kissed Crystal good-bye and headed out to catch my flight.  I have never been to Washington, DC so this was going to be all new to me.  I couldn’t believe I was doing this.   I couldn’t also understand WHY I was doing it.   Why did God want me there? I’m only 1 more person praying.  I could pray from home.  Yeah, that would work.  SMACK.  I’ve run long enough.  Time to take some action.   I arrived early in DC and decided to spend some time on the National Mall praying.

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Just before 11:00 I met up with Reverend Mahoney in front of the White House.  He was all fired up as usual and so was I.  He explained the whole situation like he had gone through it a few dozen times before.  Oh wait, that’s because he has been arrested at the White House probably at least a dozen times.  Anyway, the plan was to tie 3 people including himself, to the White House fence.  Once that was done he’d get three warning and off to jail they’d go.  The secret service, park service police, and capitol police were already on hand as Rev. Mahoney had this planned out already.  We walked over to the side walked and snapped a few pictures before our time of prayer.  My first trip to DC was sure going to be one I’d never forget.

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Here’s me in front of the White House in support of Pastor Saeed.

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Our small group of prayer warriors (minus Rev Mahoney who took the picture)

What struck me the most immediately was there were very few people who could actually come to the event.  Many people were praying around the world at the given time I know, but I was glad to have been able to attend in person.  We knelt down on the sidewalk and prayed.  Prayed for Pastor Saeed, prayed for President Obama to take notice,  prayed for Secretary of State John Kerry to take notice, prayed for action, prayed for Saeed’s family, prayed for the prison guards.  All things each one of us had most certainly done before.   I then took out green ribbon and tied Reverend Mahoney to the White House fence.  Its the first time I’ve been on the not so good side of a yellow police line.

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After walking out of the police line Rev. Mahoney continued to pray.  The park police officer gave the required 3 warning and then the 3 people tied to the fence were arrested.  Each morning the president receives a list of those who were arrested on the grounds of the White House and why.   Reverend Mahoney’s actions were very specific and deliberate and we still hope they will bring action.

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Once Rev. Mahoney was whisked away I decided to browse the city a little bit as my flight wasn’t scheduled to leave until 10:00pm.  As I was walking away from the White House I noticed the capitol police officer who not so subtly followed me a few blocks.  Presumably to make sure I wasn’t going to cause any trouble.  I managed to keep out of trouble and for a quick minute even joined another peaceful protest this one in front of the Supreme Court.storyboard-817

Pro-life protesters outside the Supreme Court

I then took the metro back to Reagan National Airport where I managed to get on a earlier flight!! So instead of getting home just before midnight I was going to get home in time to tuck my kids into bed.  Something Pastor Saeed I’m sure has longed to do for many many months.  The fight for Saeed is not over.  Its far from it.  People around the world are joining in to petition the United Nations to take action.  Make your voice heard and please sign the petition.  It takes less than 2 minutes!  Please, let’s get this man back home to America with his wife and 2 children!

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It was an amazing day.  God is so good and I am so blessed.  I don’t know what’s next.  My picture and me flying to DC generated a LOT more attention then I ever expected.  It made me a little uneasy at first.  This isn’t about me.  This is about Pastor Saeed.  Even bigger than that though its about an amazing and wonderful and loving God that wants to bless his children and wants His children to know him in deeper and more powerful ways.  Knowing Him comes often though obeying Him.

I spent a large amount of my day reading.  Reading a book I purchased on February 22, 2009 but never read more than 5 pages of.  A book by Clive and Gavin Calver.  Its titled “On the Front Line”  It talks what it really means to live your whole life FOR Jesus.  Quite fitting because I’m done running.

 

 

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