Eugene Cho

iran: we are born to be free.

where is my vote

Are you tracking with the developments in Iran? I’d love to hear your thoughts:

How are you processing the election protests in Iran? What are your thoughts & emotions?

The photo above (source: Boston Globe) is so beautiful and powerful. So much emotions. Make sure you check out all the pics from Boston Globe. In addition, here’s some other news sources to check out:

  • CNN // Hatred, chaos and savage beatings in Tehran
  • NY Times // Top Cleric Calls for Inquiry
  • UK Guardian News // Shots fired as more than 100,000 Iranians defy march ban
  • Al Jazeera //Updates on Iran situation

During my couple years in Korea in 1995-1997, I witnessed the ‘protest culture’ of Korea. There were protests nearly every day and on a few occassion, there were protests and marches that involved over a million citizens. I participated in couple of them and it was an incredible experience. When I asked some folks why Korean citizens were so prone to protests, I’ll never forget this one particular answer:

We have had a history of an oppressive government. They sought to crush the spirit and will of the people and while it may have worked on numerous occasions, the spirit of the people and their desire for freedom and to be heard eventually overthrew the military regime in 1985 and ushered in a new era.  We protest today to remind the government that they serve the people and not the other way around.

This is what I see happening in Iran and it is both hard and joyful to see.  You may oppress your people for a period of time but in the long run, you cannot quench the human spirit for freedom.  We were born to be free. God created us to be free.

I appreciated this letter that one of our church folks wrote to his senator from his home state of Texas.  It encouraged me to write my elected officials and I would encourage you to do so as well.

Dear Senator Hutchison,

While the Iraq war has had its setbacks, one of the policy goals in initiating the war was to provide an environment for democracy to take root there and more broadly in the Middle East.

We are now witnessing a historic movement for democracy in Iran with students of the “Green Revolution” protesting the corrupt leadership and stolen election.

I have been following coverage on Twitter and several blogs with excitement as these students bravely challenge their repressive and dictatorial leaders.

I hope that the United States government is doing everything it can to support these students in their struggle for democracy. Specifically I hope we are mobilizing assets to support communications and information infrastructure so that Iranian citizens can remain informed and coordinate their activities in the context of the regime’s crackdown on media and reporting.

Sincerely,

David O.

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13 Responses

  1. Shawn says:

    Thanks for posting the links and insight Eugene.

  2. Bobby Capps says:

    Mission statement of Jesus:
    “To proclaim liberty… and to set at liberty those who are oppressed”
    God created the soul to be free, there is no more powerful gospel mandate than to free it…
    Jesus’ work is freedom work!
    Oh that the church could integrate these realities!

  3. steph says:

    I am sad and encouraged when reading about and seeing what is going on in Iran. I am struck by the courage of all of these young people. I am scared and hopeful.
    It is so easy to imagine this as other-worldly, surreal, removed…. yet my brother-in-law is from Tehran and still has a sibling and parent there. It is strange to watch these powerful events unfold, knowing that they will forever have a profound and lingering effect on the world, and closer to home – on my nephews and brother-in-law, along with our neighbors next door who are also from Tehran. Thanks for blogging about this, Pastor Eugene!

  4. Nancy says:

    I am not surprised by what is happening in Iran. Something in my gut told me that Iran would erupt after I witnessed scenes of the “Green” election rallies. My parents do pre-evangelistic ministry with many immigrants and refugees in Saint Louis. Many of the children I played with when I was young has escaped Iran and Afghanistan with their families. My sister played with a grandchild of the then leader of the Baha’i faith. They had left Iran because the Ayatollah had issued a fatwah against their family. I grew up visiting the home of the former school mistress to the Shah’s family. She lived in a tiny apartment with relics of her former life until she passed some years ago. I loved and respected these people and always knew that I may fear the Iranian government, but I should not fear the Iranian people. I am cautiously hoping that something positive comes of this situation. But we have to remember that though the Iranian people are not the evil monolith that we have been taught they are, they do have different priorities and views of some important issues.

  5. fsh says:

    The recent events in Iran parallels the events that took place in Florida 2000, and Bush v. Kerry in 2004. It is very interesting to say the least. At the end of the day whoever is declared the winner, Moussavi or Ahmadinejad, change will not represent too much as Ayatollah Ali Khamenei will still be the most powerful person in Iran. Meaning, impact to foreign policy, nuclear issues, relations with the U.S., and rejection on Isreal most likely will not change. Change is always a step in the right direction, but a revolutionary impact this is not.

  6. I am really encouraged by what’s happening and am rooting for revolution in Iran. I don’t know why but I have a special interest in this country and have for awhile; I think they are grossly misunderstood as a people (though the gov there is far from perfect).

    I encourage everyone to watch Rick Steve’s special inside Iran, and Frontline’s special about war with Iran to hear from the people there directly. That’s the best antidote to simplistic generalizations.

  7. splinterlog says:

    Another point to consider is that Moussavi supported much of the violence of the Islamic Revolution and even approved of the fatwa on Rushdie. The young folk who support him today may be too young to remember all of this but I think his taking on of the mantle of ‘reformer’ is a bit ironic, given the course of his political career.

  8. david says:

    i agree that there’s something innately human about a longing for “freedom”- but i definitely think that term needs further qualification. is it freedom from or freedom for? and how can we balance our perspective on personal liberties with the “freedom” of gov’t to prevent your freedoms from impinging on mine?

    in a theological sense, i do think we are created in many ways to be free- free to choose, free to rebel, free to enact our human agency in God’s world… but i think it’s interesting that the “freedom” God creates us for is in actuality a holistic submission to his offer of covenant. it’s in our abandoning of “personal liberties” in an entitlement culture that we find true freedom in Christ.

    also, i do get just a little nervous when we begin to equate political approximations of “freedom” with justice, or God-given rights to freedom with a political agenda. to confuse the two is to walk a line of imperialism and colonialism that we’ve crossed too often. i’m all for “democracy,” but let’s not pretend that the US’ interest in “supporting democratic movements” around the world hasn’t been bloody, and thoroughly tainted with self-interest at the cost of those on the bottom.

  9. Dan says:

    There’s a strange intersect between Iran and South Korea as the two teams will face each other in a soccer match tomorrow and Iranians are asking South Korean fans (the game will be in SK) to wear green in support of the protesters.

  10. steph says:

    PE, this is so scary. I heard today that the gvmt has blocked access to the internet and phones from inside Iran. My bro-in-law can’t reach his family. I sent a different version of the letter you posted above, to my congressman Mark Schauer.

  11. […] 20, 2009 at 3:08 pm · Filed under Uncategorized Inspired by Pastor Eugene’s blog post on Iran, I just sent a letter to my congressman about what is going on […]

  12. Eugene Cho says:

    @steph: praying for your bro-in-law and so many others.

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Grateful. Still reflecting on the letters that I've received from classmates and students that have come before me and after me. Never imagined all that God would have in store for me. Lots of humbling things but in the midst of them, there were literally thousands upon thousands of daily decisions and choices to be faithful. That's what matters. Seen or unseen. Noticed or unnoticed. You do your best and sometimes you stumble and fumble along but nevertheless, seeking to be faithful.

Also, you know you're getting old when your school honors you with a Distinguished Alumni Award. Lol. 47 is the new 27. Or something like that. Here's to the next 47. In our culture, we can be so obsessed with the "spectacular" or "glamorous." The Church often engagws in thia language and paradigm...but what if God has called many of us to small, ordinary things?

Will we still be faithful?
Will we still go about such things with great love and joy?

I recently came across this picture taken by @mattylew, one of our church staff...and I started tearing up: This is my mother; in her 70s; with realities of some disabilities that make it difficult for her to stand up and sit down...but here she is on her knees and prostate in prayer. She doesn't have any social media accounts, barely knows how to use her smartphone, doesn't have a platform, hasn't written a book, doesn't have any titles in our church, isn't listed as a leader or an expert or a consultant or a guru. But she simply seeks to do her best - by God's grace - to be faithful to God. She prays for hours every day inteceding for our family, our church, and the larger world.

Even if we're not noticed or celebrated or elevated...let's be faithful. Our greatest calling as followers of Christ is to be faithful. Not spectacular. Not glamorous. Not popular. Not relevant. And not even successful in the eyes of the world.

Be faithful. Amen. #notetoself (and maybe helpful for someone else)

At times, we have to say ‘NO’ to good things to say ‘YES’ to the most important things.

We can't do it all.
Pray and choose wisely.
Then invest deeply. May our compassion not just be limited to the West or to those that look like us. Lifting up the people of Iraq, Iran, and Kurdistan in prayer after the 7.3 earthquake - including the many new friends I met on a recent trip to Iraq.

The death toll rises to over 400 and over 7,000 injured in multiple cities and hundreds of villages along the Western border with Iraq.

Lord, in your mercy... We are reminded again and again...that we are Resurrection People living in a Dark Friday world.

It's been a tough, emotional, and painful week - especially as we lament the horrible tragedy of the church shootings at Sutherland Springs. In the midst of this lament, I've been carried by the hope, beauty, and promise of our baptisms last Sunday and the raw and honest testimonies of God's mercy, love, and grace.

Indeed, God is not yet done. May we take heart for Christ has overcome the world. "Without genuine relationships with the poor, we rob them of their dignity and they become mere projects. And God did not intend for anyone to become our projects." Grateful this quote from my book, Overrated, is resonating with so many folks - individuals and  NGOs. / design by @preemptivelove

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