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Saturday, August 24, 2013

"Yours is the voice they need to hear!"

"Believe that yours is the voice that needs to be heard!"
  Erika Harold, former Miss America 2003
  speech at SGC, August 10, 2013

Standing up for the rights of women in Iran is a blessed priority in my life. Almost every day on Facebook, I put up postings speaking out against the injustices and the violation of human rights against my friends in Iran. Being their voice to the world is the joy of my life.
One year ago, I published my epic book, "The Rose of Nowruz: dreams of hope and freedom," and sent over 200 pdf files of the book to my dear Iranian friends, including human rights organizations in in both Canada and Iran. The Rose of Nowruz is the story of a young woman concert violinist who has finally seen enough injustices committed against her friends and rises up to become an activist!
Writing a book is one avenue to get the message of my friends out to the world and make a difference in their lives. Just recently, another avenue opened up for me to talk about my Iranian friends to other people. My wife Becky and I traveled to Indianapolis, Indiana to attend the Smart Girls Political Summit. Smart Girls Politics is a nationwide online Conservative movement, empowering women to connect their political convictions with the culture. The Summit featured many inspiring speakers who shared their experiences in order to motivate and empower other women to make a difference in the culture around them. One such motivating speaker was Miss Erika Harold. 
Erika Harold had the enormous privilege of being crowned Miss America in 2003. A graduate of Harvard Law school, Erika worked hard to rise up and be a voice to her generation. I had the honor to spend a few minutes speaking with Erika and sharing with her the story of my friends in Iran and their struggle for equal rights and freedom. She was saddened to hear of their plight for freedom, but promised to read their story that I wrote about them.
In her excellent speech at the summit  Erika stressed the importance of being a role model in order to transform the lives of those around us. She shared about her involvement with the late Chuck Colson's Prison Fellowship ministries, taking the message of her Christian faith to the inmates on death row. For Erika, the gift of religious freedom, is a gift that we should never take for granted.
Erika admonished women to, "not let the fear of failure keep you from the destiny that you were created to be," and concluded by saying, "Believe that yours is the voice that needs to be heard!"
The inspiring and motivating speech that Erika gave that day reminded me of what true freedom can do to empower women. I immediately connected with what Erika said to my friends in Iran. They too desire to be empowered, to be free, to have true religious freedom. They also have a voice that others need to hear.
I believe Erika is an excellent role model for my Iranian friends. She has truly been privileged to realize her dreams in a country blessed with freedom. She is moving on now from being Miss America to aspiring to be the next congress woman in Illinois's 13th district.
Religious freedom, self empowerment and being a voice for others in their culture are the dreams of my Iranian friends. My friends long for the day to finally be free from government oppression. They long for the day to wear the clothes they want to wear and to say whats on their minds without the fear
 of imprisonment.
God bless you Erika for taking the time to listen to the story of my friends. I pray that your achievements will make a difference in their lives so that they can one day too realize their dreams.