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Iran: “I Couldn’t Wait to Share Jesus”

Iran

Growing Up Muslim
“Sara” (not her real name) is a woman in Iran. She grew up in a Muslim family. Even when she was very young, she thought about eternal things. “I wanted the Truth,” she told workers from The Voice of the Martyrs.

Muslims worship Allah; they believe he is the creator of the universe. Muslims believe they should pray five times a day at certain times, in certain ways, saying certain words. Sara saw other Muslims praying to Allah.

“As a young girl,” said Sara, “I asked my mom and dad if I could learn how to pray the prayers. I would lay out my white prayer cloth on the floor then place another cloth on top, then lay down a handkerchief with a stone. We have to put our nose on the stone.”

Christians know that we are saved from sin by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Muslims depend on their own good works to please Allah. They believe Allah will allow them to enter paradise when they die if they have done enough good works. Sara became known as someone who was working very hard to earn her way to paradise.

“When I prayed in school, the girls would all look to me to lead them,” she said. “In school I was taught that whoever would fast the longest would have a more secure place in heaven. I once fasted for such a long time that I ended up in the hospital.”

Along with others in her school, Sara participated in celebrations to remember the death of a Muslim named Hussein. Even though Hussein died many centuries ago, he is still highly respected by many Muslims in Iran. The Muslims who honor Hussein are called Shi’ite (SHEE-ite) Muslims.

During one celebration to honor Hussein, people hit themselves on the back with whips. Some are pretend whips, and others cause wounds.

Sara told the VOM workers about how she used to honor Hussein: “In school I would take the microphone and sing mournfully like at a funeral service, almost as if Hussein just died. Then we hit ourselves. Because I had the microphone in one hand, I would hit myself harder than anyone else, and I would bleed.”

A Life-Changing Video
Sara’s life began to change when her sister came home from college and brought with her a video about the life of Christ.

“I went to a room of our house and sat on the carpet where we all watch TV,” said Sara. “I put the movie in and watched how Jesus loved people. I began to cry. At the end of the film, there is the prayer of repentance. I prayed it six times. I went on my knees and raised my hands. I was always jealous of my sister since she came back from college. She would kneel down, and without any Muslim beads, Muslims clothes, or stone, she would lift her hands and start praying. I wanted to pray and feel close to God like she did.

“‘God, I want to have that same connection,’ I kept praying. I began to pray that I would be delivered from sin. It was like God was talking to me. He was saying: ‘This is the truth. I am the true God. I am the one God.’ I ran into the kitchen and found my sister. I just had to tell her!”

Going to Church
Sara began attending a secret house church. In Iran, Farsi is the main language. The government of Iran does not want anyone to try to convince Muslims to become Christians. So if the authorities find out that someone is preaching or teaching in Farsi about the God of the Bible, they often try to stop them. Many Farsi-speaking Christians meet secretly in house churches.

“After meeting secretly with a Christian home group,” said Sara, “I finally got my own New Testament. I was so happy! Our Bible study group meets in the same place. It is very simple, and the walls are made of mud. There’s a door in the alleyway, and then a very tight stairway that leads to our friend’s apartment. From all the walls, love comes out.”

Risking to Share
“When I first came to Christ, although I had only visited the church two or three times, I couldn’t wait to share Jesus with others,” Sara remembers.

But in Iran, Muslim converts to Christ who talk about their new faith can lose a great deal. Their friends, neighbors, and families may exclude them. They may lose their jobs or go to jail. Some pastors have been murdered. Reaching out to Muslim Iranians with the Good News of Jesus is risky. Some Christians in Iran don’t take the risk. Others are like Sara.

“Within six weeks of seeing the film, I started sharing on the bus,” said Sara. “Then I really began to develop a greater faith studying Scripture.

“On the bus in the morning on the way to work and in the evening on my way home, I would witness to two or three people. In the middle of the bus is a big long rail dividing the men from the women. I would be on one side witnessing to the women, but the men would be listening. They were very interested.

“I always carried two things: a Bible and the Jesus movie, because some of the women couldn’t read. I wouldn’t give them anything until I had met with them and talked with them several times while commuting. Sometimes I could just whip something out of my pocket real quick and give it to them, saying, ‘This is mine, but I’ll let you have it.’ Later I would disciple converts from the bus, starting with Genesis and going all the way to the cross.”

Many other Iranians are trying to learn more about the message of Jesus and the God of the Bible who loves even sinners. Pray they will find who they are looking for.

“You will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).


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