Shofar - An unexpected request

Written by Dango

In the beginning of 2020, I was glued to the TV watching the events unfold in the Middle East.  I have been to this specific Persian country a couple of times and the people of this country hold a special place in my heart.  It was not easy for me to watch these events as I knew without a doubt, that the people that will eventually suffer the most, will be the believers in the underground church.

Most people I know do not have a good understanding of Islam and some will even admit that they have a fear of Muslims.  The Word of God specifically states that the gospel must be preached to all nations which in essence refer to everyone across the globe.  The Word of God does not say that the GOOD NEWS must go to all different religions like Islam, Hindi of any other religion.  I do believe that people are born in the image of God and we all have a God given ability or “mechanism” in us to believe.  Even if someone does not believe in any god or do not follow any religion, they still “believe”.  They just believe in nothing.

In Shia Islam, believers believe in the twelve imams and to date eleven were appointed and died.  The twelfth imam must still be appointed and is called by the word Mahdi.  In Persia one of the most famous or “sacred” sites is the shrine of one of the imams which is in Mashhad.

Many years back I went to Persia and it was pre-arranged for me to visit a friend in the East.  We bought bus tickets to leave from the capital and I knew it would be more or less a twelve hour bus trip.  Early the next morning, after six hours of travelling, I was “kicked” off the bus and told that we have arrived at our destination.  To make a long story short, I was in a town in the West and the names of the two towns only differ with one letter.  Needless to say I boarded the next bus in the opposite direction.  I arrived thirty two hours later in the correct town in the East and we had a wonderful two days together.  The plan was to take a taxi from where we were to Mashhad and then fly back to the capital city.  The day before we left I told my friend (I was strongly convicted to do this) that he must take me to the shrine of imam Reza in Mashhad.  His response was;  “Dango you are crazy to do this.”  After I applied the “taarof” tradition (a tradition of asking and being turned down three times) he enquired from the taxi driver if he would take us to the shrine the next day to which he agreed.

Traffic was absolutely horrific when we arrived in the city.  The taxi driver told my friend that we would not have time to visit the shrine and to make it on time for our scheduled flight.  I jumped out of the taxi and started running down the four lane road towards the shrine.  My friend joined me as we went through security and we started to search for the shrine.  I noticed as we walked through several “halls” that at each hall entrance there was security standing elevated to enable them to see above the people moving slowly toward the shrine.  Understand that millions of Muslims visit the shrine to “revive their beliefs” in Islam at the shrine.

At one point we could see the shrine from a distance and my friend pleaded at me that we should go back.  My response was, we have to touch the shrine, to which he replied:  “Dango, you are crazy.”  As we walked through the entrance of the shrine area I could feel and hear that a person was gripping my right arm above my hand and they did not let me go.  My friend was making “strange noises” next to me and as I turned to my right side, I realised that the security person that was elevated at the entrance was holding me with an iron grip looking straight into my eyes.  I still remember this vividly as he was very friendly and had very kind eyes which were very strange as most people generally look depressed.

He asked me in very good English from where I came from and I replied in Farsi that I was from South Africa.  He asked me again, the second time, where I was from and by then I knew that he had “caught me out”.  I replied back to him in English.  By now the “strange noises” that my friend was making grew louder as I realised he was very scared.  The security guard, still gripping my arm, asked me if he could ask me a favour and I said yes.

He asked the following:  “Please go back to your people and tell them to pray for the Muslims of the world.”

I was shocked at hearing this and I assumed, due to the expression on my face, he asked me a further two times and then he let me go.  My friend and I were “pushed” towards to actual shrine.  The shrine is a dome shaped building, it resembles a cage.  It is made out of pure gold.

We started to run back and as we came out of the shrine complex, we only had to wait twenty-three seconds for our taxi to arrive, to be dropped off at the airport in time for our flight.

1 Corinthians 12: 26: " And if one member suffers, all the parts share the suffering;  if one member is honored, all rejoice with it."

The body of our Lord Jesus Christ is global and all the hearts of His followers are filled with the same Holy Spirit.

Shalom and Grace
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