Wednesday, August 2, 2006

IRAN: STRIVING TOWARDS ISLAMIC APOCALYPSE

WEA Religious Liberty Prayer bulletin - No. 389 - Wed 02 Aug 2006

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IRAN: STRIVING TOWARDS ISLAMIC APOCALYPSE
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By Elizabeth Kendal

Ever since being elected President of Iran in June 2005, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has used every means he can not only to drive Iran backwards to the days of the Islamic Revolution, but also to drive it forward to become a world leader in belligerence. Ahmadinejad is driven by ideology. He believes his divine calling is to hasten the coming of the Mahdi (the Shia messiah, the Hidden 12th Imam) and prepare Iran to receive him. According to the myth, the Mahdi, who supposedly disappeared in the 9th Century, will return from his occultation (concealment) in the well behind the Jamkaran mosque on the outskirts of Qom during a time of world chaos. He will lead the apocalyptic battle between good and evil and establish the global rule of Islam.

Convinced the Mahdi's return is imminent, Ahmadinejad is preparing Iran to receive him. Various infrastructure projects are underway for the Mahdi's benefit, and Ahmadinejad has vowed to rid Iran of Christianity and all other offensive non-Islamic influences and practices. He is also agitating world chaos by inciting anti-Semitism, advocating genocide, bolstering his arsenal, courting dictators and stoking tension across the globe. According to the myth, when the Mahdi returns from occultation Jesus will return from heaven to be his follower and pray behind him. Jesus will fight against the Dajjal, the deceiver or false messiah. There will be an apocalyptic battle between good and evil and Jesus will declare Islam to be the true religion and convert all Christians to Islam. The world will be transformed into a perfect Islamic society ruled over by the Mahdi. Then the Day of Resurrection will come. Hezbollah, an Iranian asset, holds the same ideology.

Persecution against the Iranian Church increased as soon as Ahmadinejad was elected. In the latest incident an Iranian Christian named Issa Motamadi was imprisoned for his faith on 24 July in the north-western town of Resht. He will soon stand trial before a Revolutionary Tribunal. According to sources, Issa and his wife Parvah, both converts to Christianity, came to the attention of the authorities seven months ago when they decided to give their new-born son a Biblical, Christian name. A security official is said to have advised Issa to renounce his faith. He also intimated that it may take several executions before Iranians actually comprehend the reality of the religious situation. There are rumours that Parvah may also be targeted. The family desperately needs a lawyer courageous enough to advocate with conviction for Issa's and Parvah's rights. Issa's mother, who is not a Christian, is traumatised by the situation. All their Christian friends will be at risk.

Observers are concerned Ahmadinejad may increasingly persecute Christians while the eyes of the world are on the conflict in the Levant. But he who made the eye does see! (Psalm 94:8-11) So we appeal to Christ, who has promised to build his Church, and to whom all authority in heaven and earth has been given for the benefit of the Church (Ephesians 1:22).

PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY FOR:

* the Lord to stand against, frustrate and confound those rulers who 'plot together against the Lord' (Psalm 2), especially Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and all the leaders who support his agenda against the Church.

* God's Holy Spirit to do an amazing, powerful, subversive work in Iran, revealing Christ as Messiah, Redeemer, Saviour and friend.

* Issa & Parvah Motamadi and their young son, as well as their pastor, Christian friends and extended family, all of whom could be at risk along with Issa. May God protect and keep them physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually, and give them strength and a profound experience of his presence.

* God to provide Issa Motamadi with an advocate and with the right words to speak (Matthew 10:19), and may all things work together for the Kingdom and glory of God.