In Iran, converting from Islam to Christianity can land you in prison or even get you killed. However, many Iranians – considered “Muslims” regardless of personal beliefs – still “convert”.
World Watch Monitor spoke to one such “convert”, a 27-year-old now living in Europe, about the challenges he faced along the way, and why he left Iran.
“[My family] were Muslims, but never very strict. We had a good life; my parents were both teachers and my father had some small businesses aside from that. My father was always busy finding ways to earn more and more money. He always followed Islam, except when it had to do with money; money was more important than religion.
“Like my dad, I also loved money. Money gives you friends, respect and fun. I just wanted to have fun growing up. Every night I spent time with my friends, going from place to place in the city; at the same time I genuinely tried to be a good Muslim. But it was hard. … I often had the feeling that I was failing on so many sides. Then I thought, ‘I’m lacking in so many ways. I will not go to heaven anyway. What is the point?’
“I was surprised when one day I found myself having a strange thought: ‘Go and find out about Christianity’. I was startled. Why would I find out about Christianity? I didn’t know any Christians, and from what I’d heard, it was an old-fashioned religion and Christians were weird people. On top of that, it was dangerous. Why would I choose the chance of imprisonment and death above having fun?
“Time passed, but the thought didn’t go away. So one day I thought: ‘I’ll just do it. I will go and talk to some of those weird guys.’
“Then I remembered my friend. His job was to track all underground activities, including ‘underground’ Christianity and illegal evangelism. I knew that my friend could get into a lot of trouble by helping me to contact with someone who could tell me more about Christianity … [but he still] gave me the address of a church that he knew was open to Muslims.
“I was so excited … the next Sunday I went to the address my friend gave me. At the time I knew nothing about Christianity … [so] I just decided to wait outside until someone came out …
“After the service there was coffee and tea. A man asked me: ‘You’re here for the first time, right?’ I said yes. I asked him if I could ask him questions about God. He said: ‘Not here, but please come to my home’.
“So I went to his home. I came with a lot of questions. The answers were strange, but in a good way …
“[He] told me that God isn’t a far-away person but someone who created the earth and put us as humans in the centre. He made us in his image. He even gave us a piece of his very own Spirit. I compared him to Allah, who was far away and got angry about the little things. But with the Christian God I was welcome the way I was. He created me with my weaknesses, he even used my weaknesses to be more like Him. This was a big difference from Allah, who would punish me for any small thing …
“Still, my Muslim background was too strong to just let go. It took a lot of struggling. I told God: ‘If you really care, please show me the way.’
“It wasn’t a specific moment, a lightning flash or a dream. It happened gradually that I became a Christian. It was like the curtains that had been hanging in front of the truth for a long time had been opened for me. What I saw was beautiful.
“My parents weren’t happy about my new faith, but they also didn’t give me a lot of trouble. It was because of the people who discipled me that I eventually chose to leave the country. If the authorities would have found me, it would have led to those who discipled me, and they would have been in big trouble.
“I was 18 when I left home. Now I am 27. I haven’t been back in Iran since. I haven’t seen my family in 10 years. It’s a big sacrifice. But despite everything, I am undoubtedly happy and thankful.”
- Give thanks for this believer, and for many others like him who have come to faith in Iran.
- Pray for believers in Iran, who are persecuted for their faith and often imprisoned. Pray for their faith to remain strong, and for opportunities to continue to meet together and encourage each other.
- Pray for access to good teaching and discipleship material for the Church in Iran, especially in the light of the huge growth there has been of the Church there over recent years.
- Pray for courage for believers to share their faith with their Muslim neighbours and family, despite this being illegal in Iran.
- Pray that many Iranian Muslims will have encounters with Jesus Christ and come to faith in Him.
Source: http://mohabatnews.com/en, https://www.worldwatchmonitor.org/