Iran (MNN) — Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi unexpectedly died Sunday in a helicopter crash. The announcement yesterday from state media sent shockwaves across Iran and the Muslim world. Iran’s foreign minister and other officials were also killed in the crash.

Raisi was known as a hardliner with a notorious record. He oversaw the 1988 executions of over 30,000 people and, more recently, ordered hijab crackdowns on women. Raisi was being groomed to potentially even succeed Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as supreme leader.

Five days of state-ordered mourning have barely begun, and the government of Iran has already scheduled an election within 50 days for Raisi’s replacement.

Lana Silk, CEO of Transform Iran, says, “Yes, this is hugely significant. The president of a country has died. You would think that would change or potentially change many things in the country.”

However, will much change politically?

“The reality is that the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei is literally the Supreme Leader of Iran and controls near enough everything. You could argue that all other extensions of government and authority are an extension of his will. He has now already come officially and made a statement and said nothing is going to change.”

(Photo courtesy of Transform Iran)

What’s next is uncertain. That uncertainty creates the potential for more unrest.

For now, Vice President Mohammad Mokhber has been appointed as the interim president.

Silk says, “Unrest does breed difficulty for the regular person in Iran. It gives space for those who are plundering the nation…and it creates opportunity for increased discrimination, persecution to the minorities, and particularly to the Christians.”

In the meantime, Transform Iran is sharing the Gospel and discipling believers in Iran using every possible media platform — including TV, radio, and social media.

Their goal is to ensure that when Iranians are feeling stressed, hopeless, or looking for answers, they will encounter Jesus Christ.

“I think the message of hope continues to be our important message to the people of Iran,” says Silk. “These people who are your rulers, these people who are making your lives miserable, they are not ultimately in charge of you.

“There is a higher authority — a good higher authority. There is hope. So we continue to point the people of Iran to Jesus.”

Learn more about Transform Iran here.

Header photo of Ebrahim Raisi when he ran as a candidate for the 2017 Iranian presidential election. (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)