Sa·mi (noun) – elevated
Sami finished his cup of sweet, hot tea and relished the last bite of lavash flatbread spread with feta and jam. For a moment, he closed his eyes and sighed. At 24 years old, he still felt like a little boy when it came to Persian breakfasts.
He wiped his mouth, sprang quickly to the door, and reached for his leather Cat Ryker boots. He was just lacing them up when his mother called out from the kitchen, “Sami? Sami? What… are you leaving, my dear boy?”
“Yes, mother,” he answered as he straightened to full height. She rounded the corner with a worried expression. Why did she always look at him like that?
“Why leave on a Friday so early? You should stay and drink more tea. Eat more lavash. You are too skinny these days.”
Sami laughed. He leaned down and kissed her caramel-colored cheek, “Thank you for breakfast, mom, but my friends are expecting me now. We are taking a tour bus north to see Ghal’eh Roodkhan. You know how important it is to know our history.”
“Ah… the ancient fortress. You are strong in body and mind, my dear boy,” she said as she cupped his face with her hands. “You are my life. Be safe.”
He stepped outside and walked towards his red Peugeot 208, still feeling the warmth of her hands on his cheeks. Would she be proud of him if she knew what really happened on the tour bus?
Traffic was unusually heavy for a Friday morning, so Sami had time to look out his driver window. A few men walked past and glanced his way. Sami knew his western hairstyle drew unwanted attention and was even worthy of a fine. The list of unacceptable haircuts seemed to grow with each passing day. Long hair, ponytails, spiky hair, mohawks, and even excessive hair gel… Sami avoided eye contact with the passersby. Were they undercover morality police?
Discreetly, Sami lifted his hand to his neck and nudged his Zoroastrian pendant farther under his collar. The emblem was a symbol of Persian nationalism, but the Iranian government officials saw it as an affront to their authority and Islam. Sami was certainly proud of his Zoroastrian roots, yet even so, he saw no reason to instigate an aggressive reprimand… or worse.
Sami sighed. Islam was not his thing. How could it be? He was Persian after all. He knew that enlightenment and wisdom came from Knowledge, not religion.
“Good thoughts, good words, good deeds,” Sami whispered the ancient Zoroastrian motto to himself.
Sami parked his car in the tour bus parking lot. His friends were already entering the bus. As he joined them, he noticed that many girls his age and younger wore scarves covering their hair and shyly turned their eyes away from him. They boarded the bus quickly and without much conversation.
As the bus pulled away from the city, the tour guide instructed them to close the drapes over the windows. Heavy curtains separated them from the eye of the government, and Sami relaxed as Adele’s “Send My Love” coursed through the speaker system.
It was time to party.
They danced, they laughed, and the girls threw off their scarves. Sami’s pressure to be perfect dissipated. For three amazing hours, they would party at their leisure without worrying about morality police and the government.
As Sami danced, he felt more freedom than he had in months. Out of nowhere, his mother’s words from this morning hit him full-force: “…strong in body and mind.”
Suddenly, he lost his balance and fell flat on his face in the isle. Amidst companionable laughter, Sami jumped up to quickly find a seat again. Momentary embarrassment flooded his face, and he nervously fingered the pendant around his neck.
“Strong in body and mind,” he shook his head and looked at the group partying around him.
They were just like him: Persians following a code of ethics, striving to have good thoughts, good deeds, and good words.
He shook off his mother’s words and stood up to dance. He just couldn’t fulfill the motto today.
“You good, Sami?” Fatima asked as she danced over to him.
“Good,” he smiled, “I’m a true Persian, after all.”
How can we pray?
Sami represents the younger generation of Iran. Here are some ways we can pray for Iran’s teenagers and young adults:
- The Zoroastrian motto is “good works, good thoughts, good deeds.” Pray with us that these goals would be revealed as a false sense of security and salvation. May Iranians abandon a works-based salvation and instead place their hope in Jesus.
- Sami’s name means ‘elevated’ and ‘exalted’. Please pray that the stronghold of “lofty thinking” would be brought down, and Persians would submit to Jesus’ Lordship. Wisdom and enlightenment are earthly pursuits; they do not bring salvation from sin. Only Jesus can bring salvation. Pray that Persians would exalt Jesus over earthly wisdom and enlightenment.
- Pray for Iranians to experience transformation, true transformation that only comes when one is born again.