Saturday, August 04, 2012

The spy who came home

Reza Khalili was born and raised in Iran, but educated in the United States. He returned to Iran with high ideals. "I wanted to help my country progress, hopeful that there would be full democracy. I believed that Ayatollah Khomeini would be true to his promise of freedom for all."

He was persuaded to join the Revolutionary Guard, but was unprepared for the things he saw.

"The mullahs forced Iranians to adhere to a strict Islamic dress code and subjected them to amputation as the punishment for stealing, lashing for drinking, stoning for adultery." Young people who sought new freedoms they thought they had been promised were arrested.

"Many were raped, tortured and executed, among them my best friend and his siblings. Teenage girls as young as 13 were raped prior to execution because in Islam a virgin can go to heaven, and the 'men of God' wanted to deny them that reward. Others were slowly lowered in tanks of acid so they would die painfully.

"Khomeini and the clerics announced themselves as the representatives of Allah on earth and declared anyone opposing them to be an enemy of God. The punishment was execution. Tens of thousands were executed.

"This broke my heart. I was searching for God, so I prayed to him and I said 'This can't be from you. This is not you.'"

In a book, A Time to Betray, Reza tells how he decided to fight the regime his own way. He persuaded his superiors to allow him to fly to the United States to visit a sick relative. He met with the FBI, who turned him over to the CIA. He returned to Iran as a CIA agent.

He fled Iran in the 1990s. A friend gave him a New Testament and a copy of the Jesus film, which touched his heart. God's love suddenly became irresistible.

"The totality of his love overwhelmed my soul," he says. "I couldn't resist it, it touched me so deeply. It was then that I knew beyond doubt that the Bible was the true Word of God. That Jesus was the One I had always been looking for. I knew I was home."

Reza - not his real name - now lives in the United States and is a target, he says, for assassination, first for betraying his country, and second for renouncing Islam.

He prays for Iran. "The Iranian people," he says, "are desperate for their freedom."

Iran is certainly in need of prayer.

In a  major address to the nation in July, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei reminded followers that we are now living in the "end of times."
"The issue of Imam Mahdi," he is reported to have said, "is of utmost importance, and his reappearance has been clearly stated in our holy religion of Islam. . . We must prepare the environment for the coming so that the great leader will come."

The Mahdi is the Islamic messiah who will return, Iran's leadership believes, in the middle of chaotic and catastrophic world conditions to convert the world to Islam. They believe it is their duty to bring about the conditions that will usher in his coming.

The one piece of good news coming out of Iran is that many are converting to Christ and joining churches.

It's an ill wind, as somebody said, that blows nobody any good.