Reflections on Prayer Service for Iranian Prisoners

By Judy Poltz

I would like to add my voice to the chorus of appreciation expressed for Sunday’s program in honor of the Baha’is imprisoned in Iran. Sponsored by the Spiritual Assembly of Hillsboro, the program was the fruit of the labors of Baha’is in Forest Grove, Cornelius, and Hillsboro.

The program took place in a spacious and comfortable conference room at the new civic center in downtown Hillsboro. About twenty-five people attended, including three children and three youth.

As MC, Roger Neyman opened the program with a synopsis of the recent history of persecution of the Baha’i Faith in the land of its birth. He introduced a video, “Under the Staircase,” which explained the atmosphere in which the Persian Baha’is must live.

Produced by Kimia Ferdowsi, an American student of media arts, the video examined the experience of her Persian grandfather, who served on a local spiritual assembly in 1981 and was among the first Baha’is to be executed by the current regime. His response to persecution was a stunning statement of faith and courage. “If Baha’is are going to be killed,” he said, “I want to be the first.”

After the showing of the video, prayers were offered and meditations were read. Steve Hunt chanted the prayer “Remover of Difficulties” in English and Arabic, and Bijan Samizadeh chanted a prayer in Persian. The mood was one of solemn reverence.

At the close of the program, one of those present arose spontaneously to speak from his heart. Having arrived on American shores several years ago as a refugee, he expressed his gratitude to the people and leaders of this nation for their understanding and moral support in this crisis.

Interestingly, part of the charm of the program arose from the labor and love of some who were not even able to attend. Leslie Neyman, for example, prepared the lovely printed program, but stayed at home in order to prepare for children’s classes later that afternoon.

Those in attendance stayed for fellowship and refreshment. That is when a chorus of appreciation began. The little program had clearly touched many hearts.