By Alexandra Nyoni

On Sunday, 19 May, a helicopter carrying Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and seven others, including Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, crashed in the northern region of Iran, killing all those on board. President Raisi was visiting East Azerbaijan on Sunday morning for the inauguration of the Qiz Qalasi and Khoda Afarin dams – a collaborative project between Iran and Azerbaijan. When the helicopter crashed, Mr Raisi and his delegation were heading to the Iranian city of Tabriz for another inauguration. The Iranian authorities have not given a specific cause of the crash, however, the weather conditions were poor, and it is suspected that rain and fog caused the pilot to try to make an emergency landing in the thick vegetation of the mountainous region. By the time rescue teams arrived at the crash site, there was no sign of life among anyone on board the aircraft. Apart from Mr Raisi and the foreign minister, the other victims of the crash were Malek Rahmati, the governor of East Azerbaijan province; Ayatollah Mohammad Ali Al-e Hashem, Tabriz’s Friday prayer leader; Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Brig-Gen Mohammad Mehdi Mousavi; pilots Col Mohsen Daryanush and Col Seyyed Taher Mostafavi; and technician Maj Behrouz Qadimi. Following the news, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei declared five days of national mourning. It has been confirmed that Vice President Mohammad Mokhber will become acting president, and according to Iran’s constitution, elections for a new president must take place within 50 days. While this is a devastating event for some, there are also others in the country who have been celebrating, but it may not change much in terms of how the country is run. While the president has certain powers and responsibilities, much of the internal decision-making is made by Ayatollah Khamenei.

Following the news of Mr Raisi’s death, many theories have circulated. Some say that his death could be the Lord’s judgment on Iran for its attack on Israel in April, citing verses such as Zechariah 2:8-9 which says, “For he said, Anyone who harms you [Israel] harms my most precious possession. I will raise my fist to crush them, and their own slaves will plunder them.” However, it is impossible for man to know if these two events are connected, or what the Lord’s plan is through all of this. We can be confident however, that the Lord “changes times and seasons” and “deposes kings and raises up others” (Daniel 2:21). One sad truth of this event is that it is highly likely that all eight passengers on the helicopter were not standing in relationship with Christ. As believers, our hearts should ache and lament for each soul that is lost for eternity. May this event be a catalyst for the ever-growing Iranian Church to recognise the importance of the journey that has been laid before them. Iranian Christians face much persecution and hardship, and operate mainly ‘underground’, however, the wider Church can pray that their circumstances would not become a distraction, and that their focus would narrow even more toward reaching the estimated 98% of their country’s population that does not know the saving power and love of the one true God.

Please join us in praying for the following:

  • For the Lord to use this situation for His glory, and for the next president of Iran to have a positive impact on the nation
  • For believers to be challenged to focus more on the importance of sharing Christ as they reflect on the sombre truth that souls are daily lost without knowing Christ
  • For Iranian Christians to remain steadfast and focused on the opportunities in front of them, despite living in difficult circumstances

To check out our latest INfographic on Iran, click HERE.