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ARP News Update

How best to pray for Iran

Tat Stewart, World Witness missionary to Persia, highly recommends that we use this as a guide in praying for Iran.

By Elizabeth Kendal
Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin (RLPB) 010
Special to ASSIST News Service
AUSTRALIA (ANS) – In 1989 the father of the Iranian Revolution, Grand Ayatollah Khomeini, died without a successor. His rightful and designated successor, Grand Ayatollah Hussain Ali Montazeri, had been sidelined in 1988 for protesting corruption and human rights abuses. At that time Khamenei was President, Mousavi was Prime Minister and Rafsanjani was speaker of the Parliament.

They were secure because they had not protested the purges and massacres! Possibly because Rafsanjani thought Khamenei could be easily controlled, Rafsanjani convinced the Assembly of Experts to appoint Khamenei as Supreme Leader, even though he was not qualified for the role. However, after Rafsanjani became president the two men started to clash. Rafsanjani’s power base was the business class, so he supported business, the elite and economic growth. Khamenei’s power base was “the masses,” so he supported the clerics, the poor and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). Khamenei and the IRGC brought Ahmadinejad to power in 2005 specifically because he would serve their interests. With Ahmadinejad in power, the IRGC has been able to extend its control over much of the Iranian economy and pursue its own, and Khamenei’s, regional ambitions.

So, at the heart of the present troubles is a power struggle between the Khamenei-IRGC-Ahmadinejad camp versus the Rafsanjani-Mousavi camp. Both camps are in the conservative block and all those involved are Islamists – none of them are counter-revolutionaries. The Ahmadinejad camp is ideologically driven and committed to exporting Revolution, spending billions of petro-dollars through the IRGC on foreign adventures in Iraq, Gaza, Lebanon and beyond to establish regional hegemony. The Mousavi camp on the other hand, though equally Islamist, wants less belligerence and good international relations so it can focus on domestic issues and the economy. The largely young, urban intellectuals who have been protesting in the streets of Tehran are simply embarrassed by and frustrated with the present regime and are desperate for change. One analyst described Mousavi as merely a “balloon” that had been “inflated” by those determined to express their anger against Ahmadinejad and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei.

Independent analysts both inside and outside Iran believe that election fraud has taken place. However, this does not mean that Ahmadinejad would not have won the election anyway. He is enormously popular and is virtually worshipped by masses of rural poor who greatly appreciate his generous handouts. It is widely believed Khamenei and the IRGC wanted not only to guarantee Ahmadinejad’s election but to provide him with a powerful mandate. The ruling regime had every intention of retaining power. As opposition started to mount even before the election, a senior official from the IRGC, Yadollah Javani, warned that the Revolutionary Guards would crush any attempt at a “Velvet Revolution.”
Khamenei and Ahmadinejad control the guns and have the support of a clear majority of the 86-member Assembly of Experts (AoE). When Rafsanjani (who heads the AoE) recently approached the AoE – possibly in an attempt to de-legitimise Khamenei – his daughter and four other relatives were arrested. The Khamenei-Ahmadinejad-IRGC camp will retain power for the time being. Meanwhile, discontent, desperation and disillusionment are mounting.

PLEASE PRAY FOR IRAN THAT:

  • The hunger of Iranians for openness and answers will grow as many of them start to question what has gone wrong there and as they search for a better way; may many find answers in Jesus Christ. (Generally the protesters still hope for a pure Islamic State. They believe that Islam is the solution and that the present regime has merely diverged.)
  • God will wonderfully protect and preserve his besieged Church as persecution will doubtless escalate when the regime moves with rage and force to repress or even purge those who oppose it or are perceived to be a threat.
  • The Holy Spirit will breathe supernatural courage into the Iranian Church, so believers will witness with courage, conviction and authority; may every word of witness be blessed with every believer a prophetic voice and a light shining in the darkness.

‘For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.’ (John 3:17 ESV)

NOTE: After the Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing on 4 June 1989, large numbers of Chinese elite (including Communist officials) rejected Communism and in a few short years the Chinese Church became truly representative of Chinese society. Christianity is now just as much a faith of the urban elite — doctors, lawyers, artists, scholars and the like — as it is a faith of the rural poor. Even amongst non- Christians, Communism is largely discredited and rejected and openness and liberty are sought.

Death
Please pray for Rick Barnes, pastor of Grace Fellowship ARP Church in Sydney Mines, NS. His father died June 23 of an apparent heart attack as Rick was flying back home after visiting his parents in Lexington, SC. His dad, Ken Barnes, 97, was a retired PCA minister. His parents had been married for 68 years. Please keep the Barnes family in your prayers, especially Rick’s mom, Leila.

Prayer Request
The Rev. Lance Hudgens, who previously served in Catawba Presbytery at First Presbyterian Church in Columbia, and is currently serving at Central Presbyterian Church (EPC) in St. Louis, has been diagnosed with a brain tumor.  The tumor is believed to be non-malignant, but is dangerously located.  Surgery is scheduled for July 13.  Your prayers for Lance and his family, now, and especially on the day of surgery, will be very much appreciated.

Statom leaving ARP
Gabe Statom, well-known director of music and organist at First Presbyterian Church (ARP) in Lake Wales, FL, since 2000, has accepted the position as director of music for Second Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Memphis, TN. Statom has served as Synod pianist and organist for the past two years, and served on the Committee on Worship. To read more about his move, go to this link.

Praise from Sharon
“Katherine Mackin’s father called me this morning with the good news that her surgery went well.  They are 99 percent certain the tumor was benign.  She is still in ICU, but the prognosis is good.  Thank you for your continued prayers.” – Sharon Smith

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