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.

 

 

A Faith Post… Religious Freedom!

I will have more on this I am sure but I wanted to point something out to you.  In many places in the world it is a crime to live out your faith.  Right now, an American citizen is being held in prison in Iran for his faith in Christ.  His name is Pastor Saeed.  He has been sentenced to 8 year for basically nothing.  The US, our President Obama, is for all intensive purposes ignoring the entire situation.

Today, right now as I type this, there are people in front of the White House in Washington DC praying and demonstrating to bring attention to this atrocity.  Some will be arrested.  My husband is among those gathered there today.  Please, if you pray, PRAY!  Pray something is done for Pastor Saeed.  Pray for religious freedom across the world.  Pray for God and the leaders in this country and elsewhere to be moved to make freedom of religion a reality EVERYWHERE!

Thank you for reading!

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Why The Vitriol? Christianity

I always enjoy discovering a person I admire happens to be a Christian.  Christians are anything but perfect and I’m not saying I suddenly expect this person to be all perfect in some way.  It’s mostly about enjoying sharing something in common and… since I do believe you need to accept Jesus as your savior in order to have a place in Heaven… I have a sense of peace for this person.  No it doesn’t mean I don’t like you if you are not Christian.  It doesn’t mean that at all.  So please don’t go there.

My recent fellow Christian discovery is Scott Kelby.  He writes books about photography and photoshop.  He seems to know everything there is to know about photoshop.  He runs a fantastic resource called the National Association of Photoshop Professionals or NAPP .  Basically the guy is great at about everything he decides to do.  He is a gifted teacher and writer.  He able to explain the complex in a way that everyone understands.

I discovered he is a Christian when I stumbled upon a post on his Facebook page.  It appears he wrote a new book, not about photography or photoshop as is usual for him but a book about Jesus for those who do not believe in Jesus.  The book is called It’s a Jesus Thing and you can get it from Amazon of course.  Scott says the proceeds go to charity.  He even posted a video of himself going into a bit of the story of exactly how this book came to be.

How COOL!  The man is stepping out of the box, using his well known name, to share his faith.  I should take some lessons.  This is amazing!  And then the poop hit the fan!  I couldn’t believe it! Or maybe I could because this isn’t the first time I’ve seen something like this.  All of a sudden people started literally ATTACKING the man on his Facebook page.  Here are some quotes… yes I left off the names.  Ah! As I’m reading through the comments I’m realizing Scott most have deleted the most vicious ones.  There are still a few doozies here though that you’ll get what I’m talking about.

 This is disappointing. I had no idea you were religious. I’ve always enjoyed your photography instructional material. Your Lightroom books have helped me tremendously. This taints it all. Now, instead of seeing a tremendously talented photographer, I will see just another religious hack making money selling Jesus books to the gullible. I wish I hadn’t seen this post.

 It’s no big deal, but learning that one of your heroes is not what you thought he was is a little disheartening. It’s like learning that your favorite professional athlete is a drug addict.

Hmmm…wasn’t expecting this type of thing from you Scott. …was hoping you’d stay out of this and stick to photography.

Why not try to make people interested in science instead of religious humbug? Science is trying to find answers, not to disguise the truth as religion is…

I’ll pass. The only invisible friend I need is the one that connects my Nikon to my flash guns!

I follow Scott and Kelby Training because of his/their skill at teaching photography. Scott is welcome to publish books on any subject he pleases but I take offence using this platform to push his religious beliefs. You must understand Scott, that the majority of people that follow you here, do so because of your Photography and training. I would be interested to hear Scott’s thoughts on the matter.

Most of us could not care less what Scott believes or does not believe in. It is unethical to use his photo following to push his personal beliefs. Not a single person here clicked LIKE because Scott believes in some god but for photography related topics. Many photogs received negative feedback when they posted pro or anti gun related thoughts after the Newton shootings and they deserved it, just like the negative feedback Scott is getting is justified. I, like others, am a “FAN” of this page because of photography related topics..not because of his thoughts on the current popular deity. It is getting old to see this…Scott, keep it photography related. Please.

Hey Scott, what about the guys who wanna-believe that Elvis is still alive but can’t, because there is too much evidence against it? Will you write a book for them, too?

Plenty of people jumped in to Scott’s defense.  But still!  WHY was this needed?  The man wrote a book about what he believes in.  Why must people be nasty to him about it?  Why the attacks? I don’t understand.

This actually happened to me personally once.  I was a part of a discussion forum for mother’s.  Someone posted a thread asking people to talk about how it came to be that they become stay at home moms.  So I shared my story.  I used terms like “I felt led to…”  and “in my heart I felt…”  I never once mentioned God, or Jesus, or ANYTHING like that.  I knew that wasn’t welcome talk on this forum.  I had seen other women RAKED over the coals for using such taboo words.  Suddenly I found myself the target of attacks.  I was reading things like “I did NOT ask to be proselytized too.”  And… “This is a SECULAR board, no Jesus talk is allowed here! We do not allow intolerance!”  So I cracked up at the last one!  Who is being intolerant?  The SAME thing happened on homeschool yahoo group.  The group is called CT INCLUSIVE HOMESCHOOLERS.  Do you see that word inclusive here?  Well this poor woman accidentally sent an email to the entire board instead of one intended person. She closed her message with the words… “I’ll pray for you.”  The next thing I knew the board was flooded with ANGRY words about how that is not… I kid you not… TOLERATED on this board.

So all of this has left me scratching my head.  Why do we attack one another for our beliefs?  If someone believes something you don’t why make a deal of it?  I’d love to hear some thoughts on this!

Oh something just occurred to me.  If you come here for photography you might not like me talking religion!

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